September 24, 2011

Meet the new Freddie Mercury...

Throughout the day yesterday, my Twitter and Facebook feed EXPLODED with links and posts about my buddy Marc Martel of the band Downhere who uploaded a video to YouTube a few days ago which went viral. And by viral, I mean more than 1.5 Million views in less than 3 days! The video he submitted is a recording of himself singing a cover of the Queen song Somebody to Love as part of the Queen Extravaganza competition. Queen drummer/songwriter/singer Roger Taylor launched the competition only a few days ago in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the band Queen and offers the opportunity for winners to tour in the Queen Extravaganza Live Tour in early 2012. Music fans worldwide have suddenly discovered what we downhere-fans have known for years: that Martel's Freddie Mercury impression and likeness are beyond stellar. However it's not just an impersonation - Marc's actual singing voice lends itself not only to Mercury, but in the early days of downhere, he was often compared to the likes of Bono of U2 and even former DC Talk member Kevin Max. (I really should dig up a copy of Downhere's cover for U2's Beautiful Day; my husband and I preferred it over the U2 version, but I know that's a bit sacrilegious to say out loud.) Marc has even ventured into singing opera in the past few years, which may seem a little farfetched for a rocker, but as one commenter stated, "This guy is the Swiss Army knife of singing!"

Though it may seem like videos go viral all the time, Marc stated in an interview with WGBL that the reporter he talked to from the Wall Street Journal on Friday said it truly isn't that common. Nonetheless, views today (Saturday) have grown to more than 1.8 Million total views, and strangely enough many fans including myself have noticed the YouTube counter seems to get "stuck" on the play count for several hours before jumping up again.

I have known the members of Downhere, Marc, Jason, Jeremy and Glenn, for about 10 years now, ever since a friend at Word Records introduced me to them and asked me to edit a promotional music video for their first album release. From the moment I first heard clips of their to-be-released debut until now, they have been my absolute favorite band. I've always told them that someday I expected them to get a big break like Christian rockers Switchfoot did in 2003 when their fourth studio album suddenly sold 2.6 Million copies after being marketed to the mainstream music industry. While this is certainly not the same story, Marc's new-found fame will certainly prove to enhance the awareness of Downhere. Over the years I have heard SO many new fans discover Downhere's music and say things such as "WHY aren't you all better known? This band has so much talent!" However, I also believe that God has used their journey to keep them grounded as the most down-to-earth set of performers that I have ever encountered. Not a concert goes by where they don't spend at least 30-45 minutes after the show in the lobby greeting every single fan who wants to meet and talk with them. This deep connection to their concert goers has established a grassroots fan base for them that has grown and sustained them as a band over a decade when many Christian performers have come and gone.

FINALLY an opportunity has arisen that will shine the spotlight on these guys who spent 9 of the past 10 years touring North America in a 15 passenger van. Media coverage by outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Huffington Post, and the CBC to name a few, has just started. Whether Marc gets a chance to perform with Queen in early 2012 or not is yet to be seen, but many fans feel it would be a travesty otherwise.

Marc's Original Audition video:

Amazing "Mashup" video with Marc and Freddie Mercury singing simultaneously:

CBC interview:

GREAT Radio Interview out of Chicago:

Celebrity Values article:

CNN clip:

Marc Martel Facebook Fan Page:

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