Vicci Martinez is still enjoying a newfound career success almost two years after she was a finalist on the first season of The Voice. Though the Seattle native was a talented musician well before the NBC series came into her life, the TV show vaulted her into the national spotlight, and Vicci has made the most of it. Universal Music Group, the record label affiliated with The Voice, offered her a deal after the show. She subsequently released her self-titled album, and now you can see the music video for the album’s first single, “Come Along.”
Big Red Chairs caught up with Vicci the day after she shot the “Come Along” video to look back on her album and talk about the journey she’s taken since we all fell in love with her voice.
The video for “Come Along” arrives ten months after the release of the album on which the song appears, but Vicci believes that the delay actually worked in her favor. “I was supposed to do a video this time last year and I think what happened was, the label was going to give me a chance to develop a little and see how the song and the record were going to go. But I’m really happy that it happened that way,” she explained. “It’s been a really busy year, but with a lot of evolution as far as me and this album, and playing it live and being able to have a relationship with these songs. Normally I write songs and I’ve been playing them for awhile and then I make an album. This is the opposite.”
“We’ve been visiting a lot of radio stations and the song has been going up on the charts the last few months,” she continued. “I’ve been really seeing a lot of success in actually going to stations and making relationships with people. I’m actually hoping I can do more of that. Just kind of having that one-on-one with the stations and the people. It’s kind of them taking a risk on me, adding the song to their playlist, because I’m a developing artist.”
It’s been a longer road for Vicci than many of the Voice artists who have followed her. She was the last finalist from season one to release an album, and of the four performers from that first cycle who were signed to Universal, she’s one of only two still with the label (the other being runner-up Dia Frampton). As so much of the post-reality show business now seems to rest on how quickly an artist can get material out before the next one takes their place in the public eye, Vicci is a breath of fresh air, a true artist whose primary concern is always for her work.
“I’m really happy,” she said about the trajectory of her career. “At first, everything was happening so quickly. I kind of thought, are they just going to drop me and forget about me, knowing that Javier [Colon] wasn’t with the label anymore [and] I think they let go of Xenia. I was like, ‘I haven’t even been released yet and it seems like they’re getting rid of people.’ Then they just kind of slowed it down. They didn’t put [the album] out in stores. I was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I supposed to do?’ I’m supposed to be with this major label [and] that’s why you sign with a label.
“My manager, Beth [Tallman], who’s just so wonderful, said, ‘Let’s go to the radio stations on our own and just go do it.’ And because of that and the song doing well, now the album’s in stores and now I’m doing the video,” she continued. “It’s been very humbling and it’s been very great to go through that process of starting from square one again. Really making the label recognize me as a real artist, it’s made it more rewarding.”
Where other artists might have expected more stardom after being a finalist on a hugely popular show, having been a working musician before TV came calling, Vicci is firmly down to earth. “I even had a line in one of my songs that says ‘Let go of all of your expectations,’ because you never know what’s going to happen,” she said, looking back at her experience on The Voice. “Adam Levine’s manager even took me aside once, and he was like ‘These shows are so unnatural for an artist. This is not how it happens. With Maroon 5, it took us being on the road for two years to get the songs to start charting.’ That’s the way it happens for everybody else. To expect everything to move that quickly, it’s just not natural. To have [the label] slow down and to have all these speed bumps come along the way, I think I needed to go through that. It was good for me to really just plant my feet again.”
While she still cherishes the time she spent as a member of Team Cee Lo Green, Vicci explained that she also wants to continue with a career that stands on its own, too. “I definitely am great friends with the people, the crew and the staff on The Voice, anything they’ve needed from me or anything I’ve needed from them. They’ve been so great. If they ask me to do anything I’m happy to do so,” said Vicci, who returned to the show in season two along with the three other first-season finalists. “But I think I’ve kind of gone through the trenches in the last couple years of kind of proving myself, not only to a new audience but also to my label. I feel like I have become a priority for them because I’ve shown that ‘Hey, you can’t get rid of me. I’m going to do my work here and I’m not going to just lean on The Voice to get any success.’ I’m in it for the long haul.”
“I don’t talk to Cee Lo anymore,” she continued. “I know I can lean on him if I need to talk to him, but he’s busy. It was great [working with him], and he did help get me out there and he sang on the record, but he’s not in this video. This was a song I chose and I invited him to be a part of the song. It wasn’t him pushing me toward doing this. This came from me. It was me choosing the song to be the single and now it’s working in my favor.”
If you see Vicci back on The Voice again, it might be in one of those big red chairs. “I always felt like I could somehow maybe be a coach one day,” she added. “But I think it takes going through the hard knocks to be able to come onto a show like that and really have advice to give and coaching to give. I don’t think I’m there yet.”
Right now, she’s hoping to get on a summer tour and planning to put more time into Vicci, including a potential second music video, before she gives any thought to a next album. When she does finally stop and look back, what’s going to make her think this whole journey from music to reality TV and back again has been worth it? “I think for me it’s just making sure that I continue to have good intention in my music, which has always been to inspire people to do what they love – any kind of art, anything that makes you feel passion and freedom in your work, in your craft, in your life,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. That doesn’t just come through music. It also comes through action and your way of life. I have to make sure I’m living by those words as well. To me, that’s a success story.”
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Excerpts appear at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.