Ken j. MartinIn just a few short years, Atlanta native Ken j. Martin (he was raised in the Old Fourth Ward) has become a favorite on Atlanta’s indie scene with his soulful, guitar driven mixture of pop, soul and R&B. He’s released three albums through CD Baby, including one featuring a compilation of acts from The Rent Show, a variety night he’s hosted at local coffee houses and clubs. He’s embarked on a tour of the East Coast and Midwest, including dates at Pride festivals in Charlotte and Orlando. Much of Martin’s recent music deals with his coming to terms with his sexuality and the reaction from friends and family.

Besides the tour, what are you working on now?

Getting nonprofit status for The Rent Show. I can’t wait for this show to be a major staple on the Atlanta scene. I am also working on a new album, but I don’t know the title just yet. The vibe is hopeful and romantic. Sometimes we have to sing about what we desire. Being real can be very depressing at times, so this project is truly going to be fun and about hopeful love. I am also trying to get into poetry, but that’s a whole separate story.

Who are your musical influences?

Lauryn Hill has always been once of my favorites. I love Nina Simone – there’s so much boldness in her music and story inspires me. I wish I could have met her. My dad and I didn’t have a really good relationship so when he passed I decided to try to understand him through the music he listened to, which was Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. They are classic to me now. George Michael, Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, too.

Has living and working in Atlanta influenced your style or creativity?

I am from Atlanta, but most people don’t believe me when I tell them that. I am influenced by people no matter where they are from, but there is something about Georgia trees. It’s like they know me and I know them. I believe they watched me grow up and they’re just like my family. I am sure they and my people will be rooted here forever. There is no place like Georgia.

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.