Described by the New York Observer as talented and hip beyond her years and acclaimed as the best ever British jazz singer in a recent issue of America’s leading jazz publication Jazz Times, Claire Martin was born to sing.
Growing up in a house full of music in Wimbledon, South London, she’d learned all of Judy Garland’s songs by the time she was 12. But it was hearing Ella Fitzgerald’s legendary “Song Books” that changed her life inspiring her to go to Stage School and then to study singing in London and New York. A further seminal moment came at 18 when she saw the great improvising singer Betty Carter at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. It confirmed what she already felt - she had to be a jazz singer. Like many singers Martin paid her dues and learnt her craft by embarking on the QE2, singing onboard in the Theatre Bar for two years.
Back on dry land and just 21, Martin formed her first quartet (featuring guitar-great Jim Mullen). Her break came when renowned Scottish jazz label Linn Records signed her in 1991, the start of a creative relationship that is still going strong today. Martin’s 1992 debut “The Waiting Game” (Linn AKD 018) scored rave reviews and was chosen as a Times Album of the Year. Martin achieved one of her ambitions later that year, opening for Tony Bennett at the Glasgow International Jazz Festival.
By the mid-nineties Martin had received the Rising Star and Best Vocalist awards at the British Jazz Awards while receiving rave reviews on her American debut with four sell-out shows in Washington DC. Another ambition was fulfilled with the recording of a live album at Ronnie Scott’s in 1995, an album that moved the New York Times to comment In an era when young jazz singers tend to sound far too much like their idols, there is no mistaking the voice of Claire Martin who combines a cool, burnished tone with the ear of a born musician.