Martin Swinger’s music career began humbly enough growing up in Georgia on the grounds of the state mental institution (his Dad was a business administrator there) and Martin's first jobs were working in the Geriatrics ward, helping in the Children's ward, and night shift in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse ward - jobs that were very formative and helped develop his keen sense of empathy. He comes from generations of school music teachers in his extended family. Fortunate to grow up in a household with a tuned piano and older siblings and parents with their own musical tastes, Martins’ early influences included Traditional, Americana, Rock, Folk, Swing & Jazz, Liturgical Hymns, Country, Classical, Opera, Choral music, Musical Theater and later added Electronic Classical, World Music, Gospel, Vocal Improvisation and Found Sounds.
He learned singing from church and school choir directors, played piano, ukulele and eventually graduated to guitar as his main instrument and mandolin as a back-up instrument. By teen and college years Martin was composing songs for his church choir and for school plays. Martin studied Theater in college and then became a founding member of Theatrical Outfit, an award-winning original theater ensemble in Atlanta where he was an actor, songwriter, and costumer. After a couple of summers performing in musical outdoor dramas (Wilderness Road, Historic Civil War Musical Drama in Berea, Kentucky) he focused his true passion for performing as a singer/songwriter touring with Mitch Barrett as a duo, Mandala, who recorded 2 albums and enjoyed highlights performing at Old Dominion Folk Festival and at George Washington University as opening act for the first Kate Wolfe Memorial Concert along with luminaries Steve Gillette, Buskin and Batteau, Limelighters and Pete Kennedy.
By this time, Martin had already won an Honorable Mention from The American Songwriters Competition and was developing a reputation for his talents in songwriting and performance. Life and love inspired him to move to Maine where Martin honed his skills as a solo performer and enjoyed a long run teaching songwriting in K-6 classrooms and leading songwriting activities for community history celebrations. Along the way, Martin won First-Place awards from Ossipee Vally Music Festival and SolarFest, South Florida Folk Festival, and numerous honorable mentions. Side projects included studying with Rhiannon - long-time collaborator with Bobby McFerrin, performing with Zingo Zango Generic Jug Band and founding ImproVox, a quintet of A Capella improv singers. He began leading Continuing Education workshops on Songwriting with Children and leading adventurous singers into the edgy realms of Improvisational Singing. He was honored as a Kerrville New Folk Finalist to become a Family Stage performer and workshop leader for the Kerrville Folk Festival and enjoyed teaching songwriting to adult students and classes in singing for people who think they can’t!
6 CD’s and numerous songwriting awards later, Martin lives in Asbury Park, NJ where he is quickly gaining a reputation across the North East as a formidable performer and songwriter, member of People’s Music Network and Children’s Music Network, Folk Alliance International, Folk Project, President of Maine Songwriter’s Association and member of several other music organizations including ASCAP.
Currently, Martin is co-developer (along with his husband of 35 years) of a new LGBTIQA board game called Rainbow Quest! (www.rainbowquest.net) which teaches LGBT history and culture while inspiring self-esteem and community building, and he is writing his first musical, Hungry Pond - a collection of songs about the life cycle of a freshwater pond - told in 'first-person' by the critters who inhabit the eco-system. Songs include "Momma Fish's Lullaby", "Catfish Sings Grace", "Heron Preys Among the Reeds", and "All Thanks to the Sun!".
Martin connects with his audience. He's a captivating performer you’ll be glad you experienced live. From the moment he walks onstage Martin is simply an astounding musician with a comfortable presence, a powerful voice and creative guitar skills. Martin's strength of performance, fluid tenor voice and incredible vocal range are compelling enough to capture the attention of any audience. (He once brought a room full of teens playing pool to a silent stand-still with an A Cappella performance!) Recognition for his songwriting and performing talent continues to grow across New England and beyond. He is a Kerrville New Folk Finalist, Festival performer and workshop leader and has offered workshops and performances at Boston Folk Festival. Closer to home, Martin was opening feature at (then) Maine Governor Angus King’s “Arts in the Capitol” series and annually emcees a stage for the “Day in Capitol Park” on the Maine State Capitol lawn and is an annual favorite performer at Common Ground Fair, Maine's premier organic farming celebration. He sings the national anthem for the State Senate and has performed at L.L. Bean’s “Discovery Park” and at their flagship store in Maine. Martin celebrated nine years as host and producer of an original cable television show, “ALIVE! From Johnson Hall”, a popular concert series featuring Maine musicians, which continues to broadcast to 120,000 homes across Maine. Now living in New Jersey Martin enjoys performing at various Porch Fest events and venues around the NY/NJ/PA circuit as well as returning often to play venues in Maine.
Music is an honored Swinger family tradition so Martin was singing solos in public by the first grade and writing songs by his teens. Early years in Georgia were spent playing piano, ukulele, and guitar, making music with friends and family and singing in school and church choirs. He formed his first band while a Junior in High School, discovered American Classic Poets, Paul Simon and Harry Nilsson then attended Valdosta State College in Georgia where he wrote music for several theatrical productions. Martin began to take his personal songwriting more seriously in his 20's when his first "adult' song, "Look Who's Cryin' Now" earned a ‘Certificate of Merit’ from The American Song Festival. Martin moved to Berea, Kentucky and for 8 years toured with Mitch Barrett as a duo called MANDALA and gained fans in the Virginia/D.C. Circuit. After moving to Norfolk, Virginia he collaborated with Mike Munden and Brent Gable in a band called JUST PLAIN FOLK and then in 1985 moved to Maine where he developed his skills as an arts educator and solo performer. Martin now resides in Asbury Park, New Jersey and enjoys a celebrated reputation as a quality performer across New England and South.
A Southern boy at heart, student of literature and nature, Martin finds music in everything.
Martin's recently released new CD, Living Things reached #33 on the Folk DJ radio charts playing across the country, in Germany and Austrailia!
WERU Ellsworth, ME: CD plays, recorded jingles, live interviews, benefit concerts, Full Circle Fair
WUMB Boston, MA : CD plays, live interviews, Boston Folk Festival performer
WHRO Provincetown, MA : CD plays and several live interviews with Bob Weiser
WCLZ Portland, ME : CD plays, live interviews, recorded jingles
WMPG Portland, ME : CD plays, live interviews, recorded jingles
WHQO Skowhegan, ME : CD plays, live interview
WHRO Norfolk, VA : CD plays, live interview
Sirius Radio NY, NY : CD plays, live interview KOOP (WebCast)
WJFF Jeffersonville, NY : CD plays, Pride Day Festival performer
WOMR Cape Cod, MA : CD plays, live interviews and taped live performances :
WFMT Chicago Music in the Rafters played on Rich Warren's Midnight Special TWO CONSECUTIVE SHOWS!
WTBQ, Warwick, NY Feature artist on Jon Stein's Hootenanny
WIOX, Artie Martello, Roxbury, NY