Vicci Martinez and Healing

Article and Photos by Robert Horn

I remember the first time I saw Vicci Martinez perform live. I will never forget it. In Tacoma there is a church, Immanuel Presbyterian, where Rev. Dave Brown has a monthly event called Blues Vespers. He usually has a blues band come in and perform for a crowd that may be as many as 300 people,. I got word that blues guitarist Rod Cook was going to perform with Vicci Martinez.. I had heard of her before and was curious. I knew how great Rod was. All blues fans in the region respect him. If he was performing with Vicci Martinez, then that was one more reason to be there.

I am a frequent visitor to Blues Vespers and Rev. Dave and I have known each other for years.  After Vicci’s first set Rev. Dave was speaking from the podium, and mentioned me saying that “someone like Bob Horn may have wanted more blues.” I was impressed by Vicci’s singing though and had no complaints.  Vicci’s music is not rigidly blues or rock or soul or folk, but something that seems to live along the borderline of several genres.

Next to me was another blues musician who has won many awards in the region. I was looking forward to talking to him about the amazing performance we were hearing and seeing. It was a long time before I could talk to him though because the crowd grew to maximum capacity, standing room only with more people outside. Did I say there can be as many as 300 people at a Blues Vespers?  On this occasion, as often happens at Vicci Martinez performances,  they were giving standing ovations that seemed to never end and demanded multiple encores.  There was so much emotion flowing back and forth between performer and audience that it felt like there were a thousand people there.  When I finally got to speak with the musician near me I commented on the powerful crescendos in many of her songs that were not just at the end but often in the middle, lifting the listener up and setting them back down again. I  asked him what kind of music he thinks she does. He said “There are only two kinds of music: good and bad, and she is good.”

Since that time I have seen a lot more of Vicci. I’ve followed her on The Voice, listened to many of her songs,  have watched many YouTube videos of her and have became a passionate fan of her music. You can’t put Vicci’s music into a neat little slot.  Although Vicci may be small, her music is big and spans several genres.

I’m particularly interested in Blues music and the effect it has on people.   I put on a series of events on the topic of The Healing Power of Blues which you can learn more about at  I’ve had music therapists, musicians, and writers make presentations on that topic from different fields of expertise. One of the things discussed at the forums I chair is how music can connect with people because of the emotional or life issue a song is dealing with.  We’ve all experienced that; a song that reminds us of a past experience… a piece of music that brings a certain life event to mind. But in some music, something else happens.  Something even greater. Some music can take that emotional connection and raise it to a resolution, or perhaps better said, a healing. It is not just blues that does that. Of course Aretha Franklin does that, and Beethoven’s 9th does it very well too. Vicci does this so well that in my opinion,  she is in the same league as the two giants just mentioned.

Songs Vicci has written, from “Fire In Her Eyes” to “Leave The Light On”  offer that emotional resolution.  But in Vicci we see that it’s not just the written music that can do this, it can also be the performance. On The Voice she used some songs written by others to take us on that emotional journey. I thought her performances of “Rolling In The Deep”, “Jolene”, and “Dog Days Are Over” were more powerful than those of the original artists.

In Vicci’s music and performances she is able to take us into songs that go deeper into the life experience of most all people and express what Rev. Dave refers to as “the joy, and the pain, of being alive.” It is there that she connects with millions when she sings and takes them to the triumphant resolution through those crescendos that are so powerful. She heals and liberates through song.

Her genre is not simply rock, not simply soul, and not simply blues. That is not unusual for artistic geniuses. Stevie Ray Vaughn grew up in an area where he heard rock, country, blues, Mexican music, and music from the Cajun population of East Texas. It all was in his head as he learned guitar licks from several cultures and then revolutionized blues. It is along the borderline of different genres where greatness often comes from. As she goes back and forth across those genre borders Vicci Martinez is finding her greatness, and making her contribution. And in her ever growing audiences the tears of inspiration flow from the eyes of people who didn’t know they had so much in common. This could be pretty profound.


  1. Kelli Edgington says:

    Robert this story is amazing! Vicci is touching lives all across the US, I wonder what that feels like?? I am so happy to have stumbled across her on The Voice, my life hasnt been the same since! As I have said before…..nothing cures a bad day like Vicci Martinez!!! She is going places and I am so happy for her! Vicci makes you feel as if you have known her your whole life!!! She is an inspiration to many and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for her because in return we will benefit! Rock on Vicci!!!!! Cant wait to see you on the cover of Rolling Stone……You know its gonna happen! #Army

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