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His name is Martone. No last name. Just Martone. It’s been that way since he was barely a teenager living in Lansing.
At 13, Martone was the youngest person to enroll in Continental Cablevision’s public access producers’ course. Soon after he was producing and hosting his own show. “Video Control” was a music video program that went into syndication to select cities by its third year. During the show’s run Martone interviewed rising stars such as Will Smith, Queen Latifah, En Vogue, Vanilla Ice and Public Enemy. After an incredible 13 years on the air, Martone decided to call it quits and move to Motown.
In Detroit, he enrolled in the Specs Howard School of Media Arts for additional training in television and radio production and promotions. He worked a variety of jobs, including one as administrative assistant for the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park. But he still felt a passion for entertainment and struggled to get back in the business.
In 2009, love intervened and Martone relocated to Dallas with his partner. Martone created Enotram Entertainment and his first project until the company name was Industry Review (now known as IRMIX Radio), an entertainment news and online radio station focused on providing one-on-one interviews. For IR, Martone interviewed such folks as CeCe Peniston and Kurtis Blow. But somewhere along the way, Martone decided that he wanted to do more than just ask the questions. He decided that he wanted to be the one actually giving interviews instead of conducting them.
“It was always something that I wanted to do,” Martone recalled. “I guess the courage didn’t really come to me until after my father had passed away. It kind of made me realize that life is short, so why not do what you love to do?”
Having written poetry since childhood, Martone started transforming his rhymes into song lyrics and began work on his first album. He turned to his cousin, Michael E. Williams of Platinum Keyz Recordings, to produce the project. “A lot of times my poetry would be about love and relationships,” said Martone. “Like the song ‘Chocolate,’ that was a poem that I had written like seven or eight years ago. And what I would do is have a song in mind and give it to my cousin, and let him know exactly what I wanted it to sound like. Or sometimes he sent me tracks and I would write to them.”
The finished project, “The Evolution of Martone,” was released in June 2015, just days after the death of Martone’s old boss and dear friend, Grace McClelland, the former executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center. “I was getting ready to send the music to the distributor when I found out she had died,” Martone said. “It blew me away. I couldn’t even function for like two or three days. It was really bad. She was one of my biggest supporters. So I dedicated the first edition to her.”
This fall, Martone released “The Evolution of Martone – Second Edition” and even filmed a music video while in Detroit for Thanksgiving. The video starred popular Detroit area deejay DJ Tone as his love interest.
“I’ve had a crush on him for a long time,” confessed Martone. “So it was dream number one to shoot my first music video and then to have somebody who’s not too hard to look at help you do it … it was great. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Are y’all together?’ And it’s like, ‘No.’ They said it was believable and that we had good chemistry on film. And after watching the footage back I can definitely see that.”
Not everyone was thrilled with what they saw however. “My mom said I was selling sex,” Martone said with a laugh. “I said, ‘Is that what she thinks I’m doing?’ When I look at it I don’t see that. To me, what I’m doing is promoting love. If anyone read the lyrics of the song they would definitely see that. Those are supposed to be my memories of the one I love.”
Whatever he’s selling, folks are definitely buying. The album spent 18 weeks at number one on ReverbNation/EDM Dance Charts and each of the album’s three singles – “Love You I Do,” “Groove Tonight” and “Chocolate” – all made it to No. 1 as well. Martone plans to go into rehearsals for a spring tour just after Christmas and he’s very excited about coming home to perform.
“That’ll be the most awesome experience,” he said. “I definitely want to do that. I’ll probably be overwhelmed with joy. I just hope I’ll be able to live up to the expectations and show my hometown what I’ve been doing with my life.”