“I love all of Canada, from Vancouver to the East Coast,” Martin Sexton conveys from his home in western Massachusetts. “The Canadian fans, they buy my music, come to shows and sing-along. It’s really amazing.”
He’s gearing up, and getting ready for his 2012 Headlining tour that will bring him up to the Yukon in October. Coming off the success of 2010’s Sugarcoating he’s bringing with him his acclaimed new EP ‘Fall Like Rain’, released Jan. 24Th 2012.
“[The Yukon] is one place in the world I have never been. I love the Northern vibe,” Sexton mentions. “I love that Canadians aren’t as brainwashed as Americans. They like what they like and don’t have to be told what to listen to by the taste-makers in LA or New York City – the dictators of ‘what is cool.'”
It is this idea that seems to have led Sexton on his journey, and has guided him on the road since the early 90’s.
He began releasing his music in 1992 with a self-produced collection of demo recordings In the Journey. Unlike many others before him, he was able to sell 20,000 copies out of his guitar case. Fast-forward to the present and you’ll see he is regularly selling out venues from New York’s Nokia Theatre to L.A.’s House of Blues.
He has released nine albums since that first demo; each full of songs, stories, and questions that ring true with his loyal fan base and newcomers to the scene.
In 2002 he formed his own label Kitchen Table Records (KTR) and has been releasing his own albums since then. “Fiercely independent” seems almost like an understatement.
Sexton is truly someone who believes in following his heart, and singing out from his soul. From an enormous family in Syracuse, NY, Sexton has shown that he isn’t taken aback by superficial differences.
“I think the reason I have the ability to see eye to eye with people probably stems from being one of 12 kids in a very Irish Catholic family. I’ve had a really good life, university experience, I was raised by a rabid right wing father and my mom who is a moderate woman,” he laughs. “We’ve got everything from Christians to Pagans and have some very heated debates at family get-togethers. I like to see [them] as a microcosm of the world.”
Sexton doesn’t subscribe to many of the divisions that are used to pit people against each other. He is adamant on the importance of “people choosing love over fear.” It is all very evident if you listen to his latest EP. Within the tracks are profound notions of unity:
“There’s no left and right/No red and blue/Black and white/There’s just me and you…” Sexton sings on ‘One Voice Together’, adding, “In a world of warfare peace is bad for business/There’s no money to be made in forgiveness.”
His music has been critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone magazine, Billboard, and numerous other outlets. The New York Times stated that “his unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of the ordinary heart.”
The acclaim hasn’t eroded his drive, and Sexton continues to do as he see’s fit. Essentially, he is “trying to bring people together”.
“I try not to preach, try to sing from my heart and my own experience,” Sexton states. “I try not to get political. Fighting each other keeps us divided. As soon as we learn we are on the same side then things will change.”
His outlook couldn’t come at a better time. With reports of protests, uprisings, and plummeting economic conditions around the world, Sexton has a positive outlook on what’s to come:
“The information is readily available. People are waking up, not simply accepting what they are told is true,” Sexton notes. “Working people of the world are the giants…we have the numbers, that’s the good news. People are realizing their own power.” Unique ideas in an often bland scene is what sets Sexton apart in the crowd.
Aside from his music, he has come to terms with his sense of social responsibility. He has performed at benefits for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camp, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and Hurricane Irene relief efforts.
In addition, he played an amazing rendition of ‘Working Class Hero’ at The John Lennon Tribute, a benefit for Japan earthquake/tsunami relief.
Yukoners can expect the real deal when Sexton arrives to play at the Yukon Arts Centre, October 6, in Whitehorse. Expect him in all ranges, from baritone to falsetto, rock and roll to beat-boxing over riffs. Come for his voice, stay for his message, and reflect on his melodies.
You are sure to leave with his worldview in your head: “We’re all just people, man.”
Connor Matak is a singer-songwriter, working on home recording and living in Dawson City.