“As jazz singers go, Rebecca Martin exudes the plainest sort of poise, almost radical in its utter lack of flash. When she wasn’t cradling an acoustic guitar…she held her arms clasped behind her back, as if to make sure they wouldn’t be a distraction. She sang quietly, favoring slow tempos. Her embellishments registered on the granular level, in the placement of a phrase or a light catch in her throat. She was unerringly faithful to the melodies of the songs, both standards and originals…she made them seem less like songs than like articulations of her state of mind.”
– Nate Chinen, The New York Times
Over the past 25 years, Rebecca Martin has been a professional musician, community organizer, educator, wife and mother. A native of Maine, Martin moved to New York City and lived there for a decade before migrating North and landing in Kingston, New York. There, she co-founded KingstonCitizens.org in 2006 as a way to understand the inner workings of local government and to create a platform for civic engagement in her new hometown.
“Music and community work involve different parts of my being, and it feels good and natural to exercise them both,” she says, drawing parallels between community organizing and her creative life. “Music requires time and space while organizing, details and time crunches. Both are intense.”
KingstonCitizens.org’s earliest projects included removing “souvenir” knives that turned out to be illegal weapons from a local gas station; from advocating for the city to create an updated comprehensive plan to discussing different forms of government. (READ Rebecca Martin’s Editorial in the Kingston Times) and hosting many educational forums and debates with elected officials on dozens of topics spanning from sex offenders to meadow growing. Relevant topics were selected from month to month. “We wanted to give citizens the opportunity to understand the issues better and to provide them with an action that would include them in solutions. Our focus on education was primary from the start.”
“Rebecca Martin is known in Kingston as one of the city’s most committed and effective community activists. She was the first executive director of the Kingston Land Trust, which has become a formidable force for conservation, green spaces, and community building in the city.” – Lynn Woods, The Kingston Times
Martin was snatched up in 2010 to serve as the Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust. Under her leadership, the trust was touted as a ‘national model’ by the Land Trust Alliance in the organization’s effort to develop programming that could bring the community closer to its open space. Rebecca was instrumental in starting the non-profit group’s Urban Agriculture initiatives, Kingston’s Rail Trail program, and an effort to protect African-American history and burial grounds in the city of Kingston.