Even though it’s crushing American Idol in the ratings, The Voice has yet to find its own superstar. That may be changing now that Vicci Martinez is gaining some steam at radio.
Her catchy single, “Come Along,” was originally released in May 2012, but it’s just now getting airplay. In our exclusive one-on-one interview, we discuss recording her major-label debut, the growth of “Come Along,” being out while on The Voice, and which coach she has a major crush on.
Let’s talk about your single “Come Along”. It was released about a year ago originally, but it’s been picking up in the last few months; is there any particular reason why it seems to be picking up now – just media promotion, that sort of thing?
Well, what happened was, my manager and I went out on a radio tour, kind of on our own, ‘cause she’d been in the business for a long time and knew that that…that’s a very important thing to do still, even though some people think that it’s not. So we went out on the road on our own just, you know, hustling, and then, there was a market in Minneapolis that came across the song and gave it a chance and they started playing it like pretty heavily and a lot of stations seemed to follow that. So, we kind of got lucky there, for that station to take a chance on us.
All right. Now, the song itself is a cover: Why did you choose to cover the song, and why did you choose it to be the lead single from your album?
I worked with Peter Svensson, who was one of the writers of “Come Along,” and we worked on and wrote a few songs together. As we were hanging out, he played it for me and I fell in love with it and I kind of was just kind of like—either copy the song [laughs], or redo it. It didn’t get much play in the U.S., so I thought it’d be a cool thing to try out.
As far as it being the lead single, I really wanted that one to come out first because I felt like the moral of the songs on the album, what I believe in and my message and whatever – that it’s all on that song. You know even musically, its’ style and everything, it’s amazing. Thank God for Peter, and thank God for the label letting me make that choice.
Now, before you released Vicci, you released six albums before that. What was it like coming up with this particular album, with the backing of a label, compared to those previous albums?
Well, previous albums like others were on my dime, you know, on my time. When a guy was like “write enough songs to make an album” and I’d go in there and just try them out in a week, because I’m going to have to pay for it. And having this opportunity and having so much more than standard tips as far as production and selecting some of the producers that we used, they’ve done so much, and to just be around them, I’m like a sponge the whole time just soaking it all in. That’s definitely more, I guess you could say, like a graduation to me from what I had been doing on my own for so long.
Any hints of what the next single will be from Vicci?
We were very set on something, but there might be a surprise coming up, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, the next single will be “I Can Love.”
You are, of course, an openly gay artist. How has that impacted your career?
I mean at first, it was interesting. Some people had no idea, I guess I didn’t just blast it out there, but I guess I don’t hide it either. I’ve always had my girlfriends come to my shows, and they’ve definitely been helpful in like selling merch. I think people just picked up on it, but I never said anything.
That’s kind of why I came out at such a young age, because I just, I didn’t want to have to—I didn’t want anybody to be—it’s just, when you come out later and everybody’s like “Oh, I guess I’m not going to follow her anymore”—I wanted people to know upfront and like the music because they like the music. I’ve seen that happen with other artists that have come out later, and sometimes people just kind of leave, and I wanted people to have that opportunity up front. If you’re not into this, then go. You don’t have to be.
You were one of the top three contestants on The Voice’s first season. The Voice has had more openly gay artists on the show during the course of a season than other shows like American Idolor The X Factor. What is it about The Voice in particular that you think makes it okay for gay artists to be out and be successful on the show?
I think what was a really cool idea was the staff and the crew and people that could come together and make a show like The Voice happen. The staff, they were very accepting of everybody—that’s what made the show so much fun for me, was feeling like I was around so many wonderful people. When a show like that has that energy all ready, it’s gonna come out—the audience is going to feel it, the artists are going to feel it, and even the people that they’ve hired as coaches, they picked the right ones because all of them are just really great people—even the new ones. It just felt like a family there, and I’m sure even the last season as well, it’s the same thing. The crew is wonderful.
In my first audition, I even was asked to tell all, they were like “You don’t have to hide anything, you can say you’re gay, that’s not going to have any factor in you being on the show or not.” And that’s when I was like “Alright, that’s the show for me” [laughs].
On The Voice, your coach was CeeLo. What was it like working with him? He also worked on “Come Along”—why did you choose to get him on the single?
Yeah, CeeLo from the beginning was—not only with me, but with everyone else—he wanted us to be comfortable, and I mean, that’s one of my biggest things. He also was able to pull me out of my comfort zone, and did it in such a great way as far as letting me know what he would do. Working with someone so chill and so accepting at the same time—he was just so good about making that uncomfortable zone feel okay. When it came to asking him to work on the single, it wasn’t hard; I didn’t want to bug him, and I don’t expect anything from him, and if he didn’t want to do it, he could have said “no,” but he said “yes,” and I was very happy about that. And to him it was just like “It’s a great song, I’ll help you out if you feel you really like the song”.
CeeLo isn’t on the show’s most current season, but Shakira and Usher are. If you had been on the show this season, and had your pick of any of the coaches, which one would you have selected?
Well, I have a little crush on Shakira, so I’m sure I would have loved to work with her [laughs]. But getting to know Adam and Blake, they’re great guys too, so that would’ve been a hard choice. If I didn’t know any of them, I would’ve definitely picked Shakira.