It’s easy to be wary when a musician is described with a long string of superlatives. But one listen to jazz and blues singer-songwriter Barbara Martin and you will believe what the critics say about her. Witty. Intelligent. Sultry. Down-to-earth. Insightful. Ironic. Polished. Slice-of-life. Sensitive. Provocative. The list goes on. Barbara Martin is the real deal; a true renaissance woman in genres prone to stereotypes and pigeon-holes. Barbara’s soulful voice and skillful songwriting reveal the essence of her life experience, her creativity and her joie de vivre. And in that very honest and open place, Barbara Martin doesn’t just entertain us; she helps us remember how to dream.
Over a career spanning more than twenty years, Barbara has covered a lot of musical ground, unafraid to explore new territory at each turn. In the early years, she performed country, folk, New-Wave rock and toured the singer-songwriter circuit. But when Barbara began listening to Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace and Billie Holiday and working with blues and jazz guitarist Mac Walter and bassist Steve Wolf in the early 90’s, she realized blues and jazz were her musical raison d'être. Among her plentiful talents, she had found her most compelling and comfortable niche.
Today Barbara is best known not only for being an accomplished vocal interpreter of the great jazz and blues standards; but also for her ability to stretch the boundaries of the female jazz and blues singer image. She writes award-winning songs. She plays guitar. She collaborates with other acclaimed artists to produce engaging live shows and music education programs. She’s as comfortable in a New York cabaret show or a major venue like The Kennedy Center as she is in an intimate house concert or a bohemian cafe. Barbara’s expertise and talent place her squarely in the company of the legends she teaches about in her educational series "Women of Blues and Jazz,” but it’s her ability to transition smoothly from chanteuse to girl-next-door to perceptive poet that makes her so delightfully her own woman. Barbara Martin’s comfort with all these sides of herself and the way she articulates it in song shows us that being true to ourselves is the fulfillment of our oft life-diverted dreams.
"Her voice has become lilting and uplifting, giving off an aura of happiness, similar in register and tone to that of Ella Fitzgerald. It’s a joy to hear. The ten-song setlist is all originals, filled with a lyrical sophistication and playfulness that continues to unfold with each listening.” -Jim Newsom
"Fresh, intelligent and engrossing...music to savor again and again." -Portfolio Magazine
"Jazzy originals in a torch style grace... Martin's distinctive low voice and great band tag these songs with a light spirit." - Blues Revue,"This singer-songwriter’s artistry is as American in style as it is universal in emotional intelligence…” Washington Post
"She is carrying the torch of Ida Cox, Bessie Smith and Sippie Wallace and beautifully evokes their styles into her own compositions.” -Blues Rag, Baltimore Blues Society
"Barbara has the ability to capture the tradition of the blues and make the music come alive for her listeners.” -Patrick Golden, Williamsburg Regional Library and Arts Center
"Whether she’s singing a smoky blues number or a gentle ballad, her wonderfully versatile and powerful voice pulls you in and makes you listen.” -Brenda Barkley, Tidewater Friends of Folk Music
"Your extraordinary performance upheld the high quality standard of our mission. We received rave reviews from our audience.” -Garrett Lakes Art Festival, McHenry, MD
"articulate, focused, polished and engaging” -Performing Songwriter
Lady Sings the Blues, Ed Tutwiler, May/June, -Americana Rhythm Music Magazine
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Herndon Jazz Festival, Herndon, VA
Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, Reston, VA
Columbia Pikes Blues Festival, Arlington, VA
Jazz By Night Celebration, Towne House Restaurant, Forge Room, 117 Veterans Square, Media, PA
Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD
Low Country Blues Festival, Charleston, SC
Fleet Blues Festival, Albany, NY
The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland,