Stripped down withraw music behind her, a giant voice booms from Samantha Martin’s tiny stature.
But it didn’t start that way for Martin, who is performing with her gospel-infused blues and soul band Delta Sugar at the Dream Café on July 17. She started out singing country music and her voice has come into its own over the years as she got control of it.
It was a tough lesson as a teen singing at a neighbour’s house party that set her on the right path.
“I started singing softly to a Sarah McLachlan or a Jewel song and everyone was talking over me. I got really upset because I was pouring my heart out. I pitched a fit and left the party,” said Martin. “My dad told me no one is listening because they can’t hear you. He said you have to make their toes tap or their eyes tear up, those are your two options for playing for people who don’t know you.”
Be careful what you wish for. Now Martin’s voice silences any crowd. She has been described as if Mavis Staples and The Black Keys had a child and Sharon Jones was the auntie.
In all reality she is a truck driver’s daughter that logged lots of kilometres around North America as a child.
“I travelled both Canada and the United States since I was a kid, viewing the world from the window of a transport truck,” said Martin. “You don’t get to stop and do a lot of things but you get to see a lot. You also get to hear a lot of music as you drive, we definitely picked up tapes at gas stations along the way which exposed me to different things.”
A three-piece band, Stacie Tabb and Sherie Marshall on vocals and percussion and Michael McCallum on electric guitar, provide a unique setup with no bass or drums.
They released an EP, Mississippi Sun, earlier this year, and plan for a full length record in 2015.
“We do a lot of stomping and we have percussion which gives us rhythm and our guitar player comes in with rhythm. It drives pretty nicely on its own. It does feel pretty naked and bare up there when you go from doing an eight-piece show down to the bare bones of what it is that we do,” said Martin. “With this style of music, everyone loves the vocals so we push those to the forefront and everything else is gravy.”
Accomplished songwriter and musician Serena Ryder (Stompa, What I Wouldn’t Do), happily passed along praise for her friendMartin, who shared the stage at the famed roots/blues venue the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. Martin said she blushed when she read her friends text message, sent to her to post on the band’s website.
“You may not know it yet, but Samantha Martin is a rock star, she’ll tear your heart out one note at a time,” said Ryder.
Martin’s soulful rasp ties the sounds of Delta Sugar all together and a quick listen proves she has an undeniable passion for what she does.
“It’s a feeling I get. You know when the hair on your neck stands up just because someone hits this one really powerful note or the sound of it?” said Martin. “When you listen to gospel music a lot of it is fire and brimstone and heaven and hell imagery, but I don’t think you necessarily have to be religious to love that sound. There is nothing like it the world. It is so beautiful.”
Martin and Delta Sugar are preforming at the Dream Café on Thursday. This show has a special ticket pricing at two for $20. For reservations phone 250-490-9012.