Morton West Graduate Competes in International Singing Competition

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By Marty Carlino

Inspired by a post-concert meet and greet with pop star Mike Posner, Berwyn native Adam Martinez headed straight to his own studio.

Martinez, sporting his usual black Sennheiser headphones, tossed his black acoustic guitar to the side and used nothing but his powerful vocals to record his latest cover.

Martinez does nearly all of his work in his bedroom, which also serves as his recording studio. The space is equipped with his personal collection of recording software and instruments.

In the summer of 2015, aspiring artist, Adam Martinez attended one of Posner’s concerts while the artist was in town on his United States “Ninja Tour.”

Martinez decided to record a cover version of Posner’s hit song, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.” Martinez transformed Posner’s hit track by using his own style: a slower pace with stronger vocals. He posted his cover on his YouTube channel and MTV contacted him to be a part of the competition they were hosting.

Weeks later, he received an email from MTV International informing him that they had selected his cover of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” to take part in an international singing competition called “Cover of the Month.”

According to the MTV’s website, “the competition spans over 120 countries worldwide and the winner of the monthly competition will earn the chance to perform their cover song live on MTV’s networks.”

Although Martinez got the largest numbers of claps (likes), with over 40 million claps in a one-month span, he did not win. He finished behind Brian King Joseph, a San Francisco native who covered the same song.

Martinez’s reaction to the MTV email was disbelief.

“I thought it was a prank at first,” Martinez said. “I’m really blessed for all of this. I guess it was right place, right time.”

Martinez, 20, is currently a junior at Dominican University in River Forest. Martinez graduated from Berwyn’s Morton West High School, where he first found his passion and talent for music.

“I really didn’t start writing and recording music until my sophomore year in high school,” Martinez said.

After graduating high school, Martinez made his way to Dominican. Although he was not extremely passionate to move onto college, Martinez is happy with his choice of Dominican. “I really like the campus, Martinez said. “I love this school and love the people here.”

While at Dominican, Martinez met music Professor Robert Sherman, who has inspired him to keep working on his craft.

He’s an absolute master,” Martinez said.  “He makes me feel like an amateur, but it makes me want to learn more.”

Although Martinez still feels he has a lot to learn, Sherman is impressed with his desire to keep working hard.

“I don’t think Adam ever stops thinking about his musical growth,” Sherman said. “He rightly sees the study of music as an endless series of joyful discoveries.”

Sherman has also been impressed with Martinez’s talents as a musician.

“Adam’s talents as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist will immediately jump out to anyone who hears him play, but what I have been most impressed with is his refusal to become discouraged when faced with any new artistic or professional challenge,” Sherman said.

Sherman anticipates that Martinez is just one of the many successes that can come out of Dominican’s music department.

“Dominican has a stellar music department,” Sherman said. “It is gratifying to see one of our students enjoy this level of recognition. It also demonstrates that our students throughout the university have so much to contribute and are prepared to excel in any of the fields that they pursue.”

In addition to Sherman, another one of Martinez’s biggest influence is his older brother, Marcos Martinez.

“My brother is a really big inspiration,” Martinez said.  “I’m really fortunate to have him. He’s helped developed my abilities.”

Marcos is very proud of his brother’s desire and motivation to keep working on his craft.

“I think it’s great,” Marcos Martinez said. “I saw his potential early on and knew it would come quite naturally to him once he got in the habit of practicing. Sure enough, throughout the years he has become a great song writer in his own right.”

Marcos is delighted that he’s an inspiration to Adam, but also of what their late father, who passed away when Adam was 9-years-old, would think.

“It really means the world to me,” Marcos Martinez said. “Mostly because I can imagine what my father would think. That’s who we both get the talent from and I know he’s making him proud.”

Since Martinez’s participation in the competition, the number of followers his social media account has drastically grown. Martinez is up to nearly 2,500 likes on Facebook, 1,000 likes on YouTube and over 5,000 followers on Instagram.

This, paired with the workload of his own personal life has created one of his biggest challenges.

“Now that I have more followers, the pressure is on,” Martinez said. “However, I think it’s worth it.”

Prior to his breakthrough Posner cover, Martinez provided his followers with similar recordings; slow paced cover songs that focus on his signature vocal arrangements. Martinez has previously released covers of songs from hit artists like Selena, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Drake, Justin Timberlake and Marc Anthony.

Martinez also stated that one of his biggest challenges is the amount of work he and his brother put in. “I don’t like having a team,” Martinez said.  “It’s just me and my brother. The artwork, the videos, the editing, the songwriting, the producing, the composing, we wear all the hats in our company.”

Although it has created quite the challenge for him, Martinez stressed the importance of maintaining control off his work. “I don’t want a label behind me,” Martinez said. “You don’t get a say. I want full control. With the internet, you don’t really need that anymore.”

Now that Martinez’s run in the “Cover of the Month” competition is complete, he has started working on his latest project, his own album.

According to Martinez, “I have about 15 songs completely finished, but I want no more than 13 songs on my album.”

The plan for Martinez is to keep releasing more cover songs on his social media channels to help build his fan base even further. He plans on releasing his album, which will include his own original work, sometime next year.

All of Martinez’s work can be found on his YouTube channel, “Adam Martinez,” and his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages which all can be found at: @adamthesinger

Martinez’s cover of “I took a Pill in Ibiza as well as his other work can be found here:

(Martinez and Posner pictured above)

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Filed under Culture, Music, Schools

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