Fifteen minutes is about the length of time it takes to audition for The Voice. It’s also the amount of time I spent on the phone with season 1 contestant Vicci Martinez getting the scoop on the show, Cee-Lo Green and her latest album, Vicci.
Vicci Martinez has been trying to crack the music industry for 14 years, and it took a lot of hard work – not to mention multiple trips to reality TV land – to make it happen.
Most people would have given up, but the 29-year-old The Voice alum says she’s known she wanted to pursue this career since she wrote her first song at age 12.
“It just was really nice to be able to express myself and do it in a way that was super vulnerable and passionate,” she said. “Then realizing that people actually liked it and some of the songs were appealing made me just feel like I was doing something good in the world.”
While her breakout moment came on The Voice, the show wasn’t her first competition experience. At the ripe old age of 17, the Tacoma, WA native auditioned for American Idol, but turned down her invite to advance past the first round.
Idol may be the biggest singing competition in America, but Martinez said The Voice was a better fit because of it’s focus on just that: the voice. She said she thought the blind audition was “awesome,” and liked that a lot of artist development happened throughout the show.
Her choice was clearly a good one. With the help of her infamously over-the-top coach Cee-Lo Green, Martinez made it to the show’s finals and took third place behind winner Javier Colon and runner-up Dia Frampton.
On top of being funny – “he was always cracking silly jokes,” – she says Green was sensitive towards her and the other contestants.
“It was important for him to know that I was feeling good about what was going on, and to know that we knew he cared,” she said.
He cared so much that he even joined her on her first single “Come Along,” off her latest album, Vicci. Although it was released a year ago, the single has been featured in VH1’s Top 20 as recently as April. Martinez says it proves to critics that it really is a good song.
“It’s been two years since I did the show, so people who hear the song now, a lot of them don’t even remember that I was on The Voice,” she said. “They’re liking the song just for the song, which is pretty cool.”
This may not seem like a big deal, but brushing off a reality TV past is no easy feat. Remember Sanjaya Malakar, the Idol contestant/inventor of the ponyhawk? His biggest career moment was contributing to the book Chicken Soup For the American Idol Soul (yes, that is a real book).
Martinez has been working her ass off to keep up the momentum she built on the show. She has been on the road for the last two years touring, living out of suitcases and promoting her music in any way she can.
But commercial success isn’t her only motivation.
“I really want to inspire people to do what they love. Being happy is the most important thing, so to do what you love is definitely going to make that happen.”
Vicci Martinez’s album Vicci is out now!
WATCH BELOW: “COME ALONG” BY VICCI MARTINEZ FEAT. CEE-LO GREEN