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Best of Tacoma 2015: Best Local Celebrity

Vicci Martinez

Vicci Martinez is a Tacoma icon. Photo credit: Scott Haydon

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What more is there to be said about Vicci Martinez? After years of performing here and around the world, I think it's reasonable to say that she's established herself as an iconic Tacoma figure. Starting out performing in open mics, becoming a consummate singer-songwriter, she then moved on to the national stage as a contestant on NBC's singing competition, The Voice. While she didn't end up winning the whole shebang, she did end up being one of the top four contestants and getting a contract with Universal and releasing a single with her TV mentor, CeeLo Green.

With all of that momentum behind her, it's here where things get really interesting. Rather than parlaying her national exposure into the pop trajectory taken by so many others, Martinez returned to Tacoma after releasing her major label debut and decided to keep things small and homegrown. Over the past year, she began collaborating with local musicians Aaron Stevens and Paul Hirschl, as well as local beat-maker DJ Phinisey. The fruits of their labor, which were initially gathered on an EP, and which were recently released on her new full-length, I Am Vicci Martinez, mark a new direction for Martinez.

While her earlier material found her squarely in the blues and rock mold enjoyed by so many singer-songwriters, her new collaboration finds her exploring the kind of dance music that wouldn't be out of place on Top 40 radio. Recalling globe-trotting pop music of the Robyn ilk, Martinez's new sound is the sort of heartfelt dance music with a brain that subverts the shallow artifice that permeates so many radio hits.

Her national debut on The Voice has given her the clout and fan base to allow her to follow her bliss. Now that she's not tied to any one predestined path, she's able to explore the kind of experimentation and expression that give her the most artistic satisfaction possible. And, when Vicci Martinez is happy, so are her fans. I Am Vicci Martinez is the first in what will surely be many steps forward for the unimpeachable Tacoma star.

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