Over the past 25 years, Rebecca Martin has become a nationally known, critically acclaimed singer and songwriter, educator and community organizer. A native of Maine, Martin moved to New York City and lived there for a decade before she and her husband, jazz bassist Larry Grenadier, migrated north to establish a home in Kingston, NY.
She began her career in the early 90’s as part of the groundbreaking duo “Once Blue” with Grammy winning songwriter Jesse Harris (Norah Jones). The two made several albums on EMI Records and toured throughout the United States and Canada with Lisa Loeb, Emmy Lou Harris, Squeeze, Shawn Colvin and many others.
“…a generation of jazz singers, some of whom see Ms. Martin as a touchstone. Among them are Gretchen Parlato….’She’s been a great guide and mentor and sister in my songwriting,’ says Ms. Parlato.
“A Voice That Leaps Among Genres” in The New York Times.
In 1998, Martin started her solo career, producing six critically acclaimed solo recordings since then: all appearing as critic picks or landed in the ‘top 10 recordings’ of the year lists by publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Telerama, and many others. Her collaborative projects include “On Broadway Volume 4 or the Paradox of Continuity” with the legendary Paul Motian (Bill Evans), where she was the first singer in history to make a recording with the drummer; the singers and songwriters Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens with their trio project “Tillery”; as well as a 2017 release with the Argentinian composer Guillermo Klein called “The Upstate Project”. Martin continues to write, record, teach and perform all over the world.
“The actress Rachel Weisz, who is a friend of Martin’s, described her as ‘a very talented musician and a devoted mum who, as a concerned citizen, educated herself in the very complex details of local politics.’ Martin, she went on, ‘can’t look away, like most of us.’
“A Jazz Singer Fights Niagara Bottling” in New Yorker Magazine.
As a community organizer, Martin is the founder of KingstonCitizens.org, a non-partisan, citizen run organization that has been focused since 2006 on increasing citizen engagement in city government. She is the former Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust where under her leadership, the trust was touted as a ‘national model’ by the Land Trust Alliance and she currently serves as the the special project coordinator in the Water Quality Program at Riverkeeper, New York State’s Clean Water Advocate.
Martin describes herself as “a creative tumbleweed” when looking over the past 25 years. “My life has always been about three things: music, organizing, and family. They are my core and each not only led me into unexpected places, they also feed off of one another. They are their own ecosystem.”
Collaboration is the fluid theme that runs through Martin’s life and her approach to work. “You have to find your independence to fill your own needs and then in turn to be a good partner or collaborator,” she says. “In music, the public gets a finished product. But in real life, lots of mistakes are made and in community work and relationships, those are exposed. Music has informed me, however, that each moment counts and that the most inspiring music is made from our mistakes. That wisdom is absolutely true in everything that we do. Own it, forgive yourself and get on with it.”
“Rebecca Martin may be of a school unto herself; the closest she might come to Americana would be such as the works of Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, W. D. Snodgrass and Allen Ginsburg.”