Five Questions With… Samantha Martin
The powerhouse soul singer has just earned a Road Gold award for extensive gigging with her band Delta Sugar. Here she reflects upon that honour, the vintage vibe of their new record, and the songs that mean the most to her.
By Jason Schneider
Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter Samantha Martin is the latest artist to earn CIMA’s Road Gold award, acknowledging sales of 25,000 concert tickets within Canada over the past 12 months. It’s further proof that Martin and her current blues/soul crew Delta Sugar are poised for a long-overdue breakout on the strength of their latest album Run To Me, out now on Gypsy Soul Records.
Produced by bassist Darcy Yates, the album is a significant creative step forward for Martin, with the songs reflecting her growth as a writer, as well as arrangements putting her in league with leading contemporary R&B artists such as Leon Bridges and Lee Fields.
Expanding her already formidable vocal-heavy band for Run To Me with piano, organ, and a full horn section has paid off for Martin, making Delta Sugar a must-see live attraction. At the start of this year, the band launched what they have planned to be a 10-country tour lasting into next spring with over 75 shows in Europe and Canada. You can catch them next on August 18 at the Summerfolk Festival in Owen Sound and on August 23 as part of Roy Thomson Hall’s Patio Series in Toronto.
For more info, go to samanthamartinmusic.com.
Congrats on earning Road Gold recognition. What does an accolade like that mean for you?
Thanks! I am excited and honoured to receive the award for two reasons, firstly because my band and I have been hitting the road hard and it is great that we are being acknowledged. Secondly, I think it is great that CIMA has awarded it to a female fronted band. It’s important that programmers can see that women can sell tickets and headline festivals just as often as their male counterparts. Gender parity—the struggle is real.
You recently released your new album Run To Me. How does it stand apart from your previous work?
Our last record, Send The Nightingale, was a dark acoustic gospel/blues record. We highlighted the vocal harmonies and kept the instrumentation very sparse. It worked well for the subject matter I was writing about at the time. Run To Me has a vintage soul vibe, the songs are upbeat and mostly about love and relationships. Although the vocals are still the focus, we have doubled the size of the band, which has been fun. I think the co-writing that I have been doing with Curtis Chaffey played a big part in the evolution from one record to the other.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
That’s a hard one, but two stand out. “Take Us Swiftly Home” from Send The Nightingale was about me trying to grapple with the idea of death. I wrote it for my mom before she passed away at 50 years old from cancer. It was and still is incredibly hard to perform. “Chasing Dreams” from Run To Me is a song that I wrote at another low point in my life. I was dealing with self-doubt and the constant grind it takes to be a self-employed musician. Both are incredibly personal songs, but both speak to a universal feeling that I hope any listener can relate to.
What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?
This past year has been full of massive changes for me, most of them for the better, some of them harder than others. I think the biggest thing is that I've been starting to put my best interests and happiness at the forefront of the decisions I have been making.
If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I think my answer is probably everyone’s answer: For others to value the contributions of musicians/writers/artists, and to help us earn a livable wage to keep creating. I think the point of Road Gold is to say, 'Congrats, you made an honest yet modest living touring one of the hardest countries in the world to tour—and no one in your band was permanently maimed in the process!'