Big Deal singer Christopher Martin really is a big deal, and believe it or not, he has a measure of humility for which he is not given enough credit. For example, how many reggae or dancehall artistes can truthfully say that the blind genius, Stevie Wonder, specifically requested to be present at one of their concerts? Chris should be the first one to put his hand in the air, but when he actually does, it is with a certain amount of reluctance because it’s not something that he brags about.
It was during a recent interview with The Gleaner that the VP Records artiste named Stevie Wonder as one of his musical heroes. Asked if he had ever seen him perform live, he responded, “I’ll soon tell you something about that.” He did.
The story is that in 2015, Martin went to Los Angeles to do a show, and the day before the event, the promoter approached him and made a rather interesting request. “Stevie Wonder wants to come to your show.” His response was, with total incredulity, “Which Stevie Wonder?” So the promoter repeated himself.
“I couldn’t believe this. Stevie Wonder is my hero. Stevie Wonder actually knowing who I was and, even more than that, wanting to attend my concert?” For Martin, that was the stuff of which dreams are made. “I didn’t want to get too excited, just in case it didn’t happen, and then I would be too disappointed. But, nonetheless, I kept on telling myself, ‘Chris, this performance has to be perfect. You can’t do anything wrong.’”
Come show night, guess who was in the audience? The mega successful entertainer who has won 25 Grammy Awards –making him one of the most awarded artistes of all time. The man who holds the honour of being the first Motown artiste and the second African-American musician to ever win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. None other than Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known as Stevie Wonder. He had attended a concert specifically to watch Jamaican reggae singer, Chris Martin.
Martin recalled that that night, when he performed with Stevie Wonder in the audience, was the most memorable moment of his career. “It was the best show I ever did,” he said, still relieved that he didn’t mess up. “And after the show was over, I went to meet him, and we had a chat. He knew my songs. Like, Stevie Wonder knew my songs,” he said, counting his words. “He (Stevie Wonder) said, ‘I love your jam. Paper Loving and Cheater’s Anthem. I play them on my show.’” That was it. Martin was ready to pack up and exit entertainment. It could hardly get better than this.
The singer, whose interview was decorated with words like “blessing”, “blessed” and “gratitude”, described this meeting as just one of his many blessings. Of his career and the success it has brought him for the past 14 years, he said, “I am blessed to be achieving my purpose.”
The 2005 winner of ‘Digicel Rising Stars’, Martin admitted that he has matured quite a bit throughout his almost decade and a half in the music industry. “I remember in the early stages, I would do interviews and not make eye contact,” he said, laughing at himself at the memories. “Now, it’s totally different.”
His record company, VP, with which he signed a multi-album deal in August 2013, describes him as professional, punctual and a joy to work with. Of VP, he said, “We understand each other. If I want something, I voice it. I am very hands-on with my career. VP and I are in a good place.”
Martin’s sophomore album, And Then, recently debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, and he is in high demand for shows both in Jamaica and overseas. His chart-topping Big Deal single was used in a super popular KFC commercial, and he recently signed a deal with sportswear giant Puma, engineered by Puma ambassador and world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, whose inner circle he forms an integral part of.
“My manager spoke to Usain’s manager, and the deal happened,” he explained, casually showing the Puma shoes he was wearing.
Having achieved so much in the first 14 years of his music career, he has goals for the next 14, which will also mark his milestone of 45 years on this earth. He hopes to be alive, healthy and still in demand. “I want to be relevant,” he said. “I want to stop recording and just have a body of work that my kids and grandkids will be proud of.”
The father of three – two girls and a boy, all of whom he loves equally – Martin said he is not yet ready to settle down. “I have never given much thought to marriage,” he said.
He thought about the whole marriage issue for a few more seconds, then he said, “You can say that Chris Martin is married to his kids.”