Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Jace Martin: I truly look for loyalty; someone who has your back and is there for you in the good times and bad. Nothing like knowing in your heart that you can count on someone.
W: What is it that really makes you mad?
J.M.: I have found that unreliability has always irked me. When someone commits to something and backs out at the last minute. Just be up front and honest with me. If you know you can do it or you would rather not, then say so. But if you say yes, then through wind, rain or fire, you should keep your word.
W: When are you at your happiest?
J.M.: Sharing, to be honest. Being able to share my time with my nephews and family at barbecues, Canada’s Wonderland or sea-dooing at the beach. Sharing the stage with my brother when I perform and being able to share my music and passion, songs with audiences across North America. Also, being able to share my knowledge and experience with the youth through various programs.
W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
J.M.: Incorrigible. When I’m at my worst, I can’t be comforted or calmed. It is a process that usually needs prayer in order to give me peace.
W: What one person do you most admire and why?
J.M.: Jesus Of Nazereth. He walked the earth with compassion and love, gave all glory to God for his talents and accomplishments, gave all that he had so others could be lifted up. He helped the homeless, the fatherless, the widows...His example is how I structure my life.
W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
J.M.: Say goodbye to my Big Brother and Mentor, Darren Ross Martin, who was the leader of our family band The Wolfpack. He passed away February 2011 at the age of 38 and continues to inspire me with his life and passion for the youth and love for all people.
W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
J.M.: Starting Six Nations first ever music festival, The Six Nations Concert for a Cure and Artists Festival. We are Canada’s largest Aboriginal reservation and I have performed so many festivals and wondered why we didn’t have one. We needed a place where our Aboriginal talent could be showcased with world class musicians. We are now in our fifth year, have attracted over 10,000 tourists and have had artists like GRAMMY winner Jonny Lang, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Crystal Shawanda, Karl Wolf, JRDN, Stevie Salas and Bernard Fowler, Derek Miller and more perform, all while providing a stage for youth emerging Aboriginal talent and raising cancer awareness.
W: What one goal remains out of reach?
J.M.: I believe nothing is out of reach. I am a big believer in faith and prayer and all of our dreams are attainable. The dream that seems to be always distant is I would one day like to perform at the GRAMMY’s and to win a GRAMMY would be icing on the cake.
W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
J.M.: I would be an actor, as I started out in theatre when I was 13 and had over 18 acting roles in movies, radio, documentaries and TV when I was younger. As I grew and started performing in music, I had no time to continue in acting but had a chance to revive that dream in 2005 when I was asked to be in a bio-pic movie of Shania Twain, which I did and it was a lot of fun!
W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
J.M.: My Pastor Russ Moyer “Your talent will make room for you and set you before great men...your character will keep you there”
W: Did you take it?
J.M.: Yes! It changed my life...Integrity, honesty, getting my life to be above reproach.
W: How do you hope to be remembered?
J.M.: Through my acts of love and by sharing my knowledge to the young generations, by being a good mentor and setting a positive example for the youth. Trying to change the atmosphere from negative to positive. Being a great musician is what I would have said 10 years ago...but now it’s about the future generations for me!
Jace Martin was raised on Six Nations, Ont. He is the middle child of seven children and raised by parents he proudly says are still together after 40 years of marriage. He grew up with a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins and grandparents. To this day they stay in touch and have regular family reunions to catch up with each other.
Growing up with five brothers and one sister Martin says that sports were a usual part of his days. They all played various sports but music was the one constant for them all. “I loved singing. I would record myself on my little tape machine making up songs to instrumentals I could find on the radio; music was huge in my family. Me and my brothers were always listening or playing music.”
His brothers formed a band called The Wolfpack and when old enough Martin joined them, performing their lead vocals as they sang covers from Stevie Ray Vaughn, Stevie Wonder and Ritchie Valens. They won a Canada-wide talent show on APTN called “On Stage,” competing against thousands of other artists. While performing with The Wolfpack, Martin won three Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, including Best Blues Album 2003 and 2005 and Best Group 2004 while achieving the #13 Best Blues Album Release in 2005, according to the Toronto Blues Society, right behind BB King and ahead of Downchild Blues Band.
His first professional performance at age 13 was a solo where he performed at Rainboworld on stage with Canada’s Queen of Jazz Salome Bey, with the likes of Deborah Cox and Saidah.
“I was nervous until Salome took me aside and told me that I was special, and that I had a gift that would come out if I just had faith and worked hard!”
In 2008 Martin released his self-titled debut solo album recorded at Grant Ave Studios in Hamilton, Ont., the former studio to U2 Super Producer Daniel Lanois. He had his first single “What I Need” climb to #3 on the National Aboriginal Top 40 Countdown.
The album racked up 14 nominations at the CAMA, APCMA’s, Hamilton Music Awards, NAMMY’s for various categories, including “Best Male Artist” “R&B Recording of The Year” and then took home the “Best Blues Album” at the NAI Image Awards in New Mexico.
In 2009 Martin met Nashville Country Star Crystal Shawanda at the APCMA’s and she was impressed by his performance and asked him for his album. Shawanda signed him to her new label, New Sun Records.
When asked about the usual personal pitfalls of the industry, Martin says, “Well earlier in my life, I experimented with alcohol and smoking—the party lifestyle for a few years. During those times, my life came undone. I was even a little depressed and my music was suffering as was my career. When I realized everything I had worked so hard for was suffering, I eliminated the problem, which was the late nights, the partying. So thankfully I learned that lesson early, and now can focus on the good things in life.
“So when I went on the road with Crystal Shawanda for four months touring across North America in the summer of 2010, those things didn’t even cross my mind. My mind was focused on the music, my career, my health, my dreams and on my faith, right where my focus should be.”
Martin’s faith plays a pivotal role in his life decisions. “As far as I can remember, I have been praying, and exercising my faith. I read the Bible, go to church and even went to Bible College when I was 25.”
With his debut world release and first album with New Sun Records, Martin sings with a renewed conviction that he has found his voice.