I recently had the utmost pleasure to interview Atlanta-based R&B/singer-songwriter, Keeyen Martin. He has been on the road nose-deep in the Sofar tour experience, where he played a sold-out show in New York, and most recently, in Nashville. The LA show will finish up the Sofar Tour at the start of 2020.
On top of non-stop touring, Martin has been performing and preparing constantly in the studio in anticipation of his upcoming EP. His most recent release, The Prelude, which dropped on February 1st earlier this year, is only the beginning of the music to be released within the new year.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Martin was raised in a family where “music was the central nucleus of all their lives.” He adds that family and church were always a staple in his upbringing, which led him to begin singing and performing in all choir shows, events, musicals, and so on.
After high school, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia to study music at Morehouse College. Throughout his college experience, he played every open mic night, every lounge and bar to hone his craft. Though he doesn’t perform at these venues often, due mostly to where he is in his career, he still finds himself supporting the local artists performing at these venues. He chooses to immerse himself in the music culture in order to keep himself motivated.
Martin shared some of his core beliefs that contribute to his continued success. He says that the most important thing is to have a strong foundation to start, and that “if your foundation is rocky and unstable, it’s very hard for that not to be uncovered in the future” and that everything he does in his career is “operating from a place of key things in his Foundation.”
He says how his family has always big a big part of his strong foundation and that “family has always brought him to a central space” and keeps him grounded and humble throughout this journey. He takes pride in doing things with a strong sense of integrity and urgency and that is shown in all of his success. Martin also expressed just how important he thinks it is to give it your best in every opportunity that comes your way.
Now being a music graduate myself, I wanted to get his take on the advancement of technology and social media in today’s world. He feels that “social media and the internet is such a beautiful but challenging thing.” With further discussion, he explains that social media, when used for its intended purpose, allows for people to share their craft and art, but also opens up to outside criticism, welcomed or not. Martin says that “community at large would change if we’re genuine to people and we don’t have ulterior motives… we can all be successful, we can all thrive” which really resonated with me because of the success of one person does not mean your own success is stunted.
Martin says there are many ways that he measures his success, but the biggest for him is that he is happy. Being happy in “doing what he loves, waking up each day and finding joy in his craft… falling in love with himself and the way he does it.” The opportunities to play in different cities only adds to his point that he is “living in his success.” All of the success that he’s experienced all “stemmed from that little boy in Charlotte having a dream of being a singer.”
His favorite part of what he does? The live shows and interactions with the audience at every show. He feels he thrives the most when he’s able to connect with people through his creative power and ability to pull an audience into his world. “The engagement with people and interacting with them on stage… you never know the depth that my singing will have on one person. There’s nothing like it.”
Another area of interest that we explored were some musical influences that have shaped Martin as an artist, along with the question of “Who would you want to collaborate with and/or open for in the future?” This question sprung up artists from old-school NWA members like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube to people like the Queen of Hip-Hop and Soul, Mary J Blige, Queen Bee Lil Kim, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, and so many more.
As we talked more and more about his musical influences, he explains that this broad range of artists has taught him that he has no limits… and that he would love to “create music and have experiences with these people that he reveres.”
Throughout the interview, I was able to get an idea of other things that Martin is involved with when he’s not with his family, in the studio, or performing. He says that since living in Atlanta, he has found a passion for working with the youth of the community. He acts as a vocal instructor and also as a general music teacher. His passion for sharing the arts with children has also put him in a mentor position. Teaching music, especially in cities, is lacking; which is why he focuses on being a person that can give those children opportunities to explore the possibilities that music and the arts have to offer. He says that he wants to do this for the rest of his career, no matter the city because he wants to “connect with the youth and interact with them and see how a child’s life can be impacted by him as a teacher, and a mentor as well.”
Martin also wants to extend his reach outside the city of Atlanta and keep sharing his love and knowledge of music with others and create all of these incredible experiences.
As our interview ticks down to its last minutes, the biggest question I always have for artists is always the same. “What’s next for you?” Martin exclaims how he will be going to Italy next month for the first time as a solo artist. He adds that he will continue his work with the youth of Atlanta, and other areas to teach and mentor them in their musical endeavors, and personal lives.
The best advice he can give to other up-and-coming artists is “if you can be consistent… you can be great… and the only thing that is holding yourself back is you…” He continues to keep grinding in the studio to get the full release of The Prelude out in 2020, and continues to perform as much as possible.
A huge thank you to Keeyen Martin for sitting down with me, it really was a pleasure, and thank you to 404 Agency Network for the opportunity to set this all up! Keep out for his new releases soon, and follow Keeyen Martin’s musical journey through social media below!
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