Tonight on The Voice‘s Season 2 Battle Rounds, Erin Martin will compete against another member of Team Cee-Lo to keep her spot on the show. No matter who she’s against, it’s a sure thing they won’t sound like Erin. The 27-year-old model-turned-singer from Chicago has a raspy jazz tonality that instantly made judges perk up when she began singing “Hey There Delilah” during her audition. Erin said that her different sound has already stirred up differing opinions from fans of the show.
“There are people that love it, there are people that can’t stand it,” Erin said. “To have people that are like ‘I don’t like this girl, she sounds so different!’ but buy my single anyway — it gets people talking, it gets real feedback out there that I can take and use to help my performance and the way I’m perceived by an audience. The people that do like it — they’ve been saying ‘it’s a breath of fresh air, it’s really unique, I love that you’re bringing this Billie Holiday sound back.’ That’s my goal, is to bring old school music back. People are embracing it and they love it. I think it’s cool that people are up for something and different.”
Erin has only been singing for a few years but she’s already performed at large music festivals like Summerfest in Milwaukee and Lollapalooza in Chicago. She’s also had several meetings with record labels, but was told she needed some “artist development.” That’s where Coach Cee-Lo Green comes in. Erin said she chose Cee-Lo as her mentor because he is “unique and unafraid to be himself. I’m definitely not afraid to be myself either,” Erin said. “He’s very creative and he’s not afraid of breaking boundaries on anything. I just like that spirit about him and I thought it would match my unique voice and just help me develop as an artist. I think he’s cool, I think he gets it — he gets the music industry. I think he’s a visionary as far as performance goes. I love the way he performs. The songs he gets on the radio are just incredible. They could be highly controversial but they are just embraced and I love that. I think I’m going to be one of those highly controversial characters on the show.”
Erin said she chose “Hey There Delilah” for her audition song because a friend of hers was in the music video, but that she also liked it was “peaceful and soothing. “It’s actually cool because if it’s sung by a girl, it’s hard to make it your own,” Erin said. “So because it was sung by a male vocalist, it gave me the opportunity to make it my own and we just, honestly, we just stripped it down and made it super simple. I was basically singing acapella. It was acapella for me because I couldn’t hear the guitar. I just like simple things.”
At her audition, Erin was joined by her mom and her girlfriend, Jenny, who is a doctor of physical therapy. “She plays guitar as kind of a hobby,” Erin said of Jenny. “She and I jam out every once in a while. she’s very supportive about my music. I hope she’s not like a super secret fan because that would be weird! [Laughs] But yeah, she’s great.”
Despite introducing her girlfriend to Carson Daly, Erin said she doesn’t necessarily consider herself “out,” likely because she doesn’t identify as a lesbian.
“I think that just because I have a girlfriend doesn’t mean I’m out. I think I’m in — in as in I’m on the show,” Erin said. “As far as being out, I don’t consider myself a lesbian, I consider myself to be someone that just happens to be in love with a woman at this point in my life. I dated men my entire life and I dated women my entire life, so it’s not like I would consider myself out. I just consider myself a person in love with another person.”
Erin Martin asserts her individuality in all kinds of ways, so she might be right about her being a controversial contestant. Nonetheless, she says she feels embraced by a show that is looking for singers who are not cookie-cutter models of the pop stars who are singing on the Top 40, including her out lesbian roommate and teammate on the show, Sarah Golden.
“Sarah has a really unique sound. I love her voice. I think that having a unique voice in the competition can be to anyone’s advantage,” Erin said. “I just love [that] The Voice is a great launching platform for artists who do have unique voices. It’s voice and tonality of the voice and not how many tricks you can do with it. It’s how does this voice make you feel? You don’t have to do runs and be a soul singer or any of those things that are a stereotype of being a good singer. If people like it then they like it, you know?”
“People are embracing it and they love it,” Erin said of her own uniqueness. “I think it’s cool that people are up for something and different.”