Peach Jam Podcast: Keeyen Martin
As incredible as it sounds, Keeyen Martin's musical journey started at two years old. Support and encouragement from his family and mentors led Keeyen to receive the Michael Jackson Scholarship to Morehouse College. He joins the Peach Jam Podcast to discuss his love for Atlanta, a childhood full of music, and the importance of building a network.
Peach Jam Podcast features stories and songs recorded live in our GPB studios from a variety of incredibly talented and diverse bands and artists who call the Peach State home.
Keeyen Martin: I'm Keeyen Martin. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Charlotte, North Carolina, and I play R&B soul music.
Jeremy Powell: And you were just about to tell me a story that your dream was to come to Atlanta. So why from Charlotte to Atlanta?
Keeyen Martin: Oh, absolutely. So Atlanta, as young as I remember, maybe even around like kindergarten, first grade ish. It was just the music like them from R&B music to pop music to you name it. We were always listening to artists in Atlanta, and I remember TLC, Usher, Outkast, I mean, the list goes on was played in my household. I was like, I got to get out of here in Atlanta so I can be a part of that culture. And it was further perpetuated by my family would always take vacations to Atlanta because it was the nearest bigger city. And that planted the seed that I eventually, you know, experience growing into now that I live in Atlanta.
Jeremy Powell: Tell me about coming here for school.
Keeyen Martin: So school was an amazing opportunity. I'll be honest, I did not want to go to college at first. I just wanted to. You know, flourish and become this big star. And it was a friend of mine who was a talent coach in this arts organization titled Inspire The Fire that I grew up in as a kid. And he was just like, You have so much talent. I think that you should pursue, you know, getting a music degree. And I was like, No, I'm going to be famous. I want to do others. Like, my mentality was just, you know, very different then. And I just remember he would take me around to different people in Atlanta, excuse me, in Charlotte and sing. And one of them happened to be a graduate of Morehouse College who was like a big band director. And he was like, oh, my goodness, I'm going to make some calls. You're going to get into this college, Morehouse College, which I didn't know what college that was at the time. That set the tone for me to do some auditioning here in Atlanta. And I was really, really blessed to receive a Michael Jackson talent scholarship, which paid for my college experience. And I was like, Michael Jackson has scholarships one. But then I'm actually in the school that I knew nothing about, but I learned the history. And it's in Atlanta, the city that I've always wanted to come to.
Jeremy Powell: Take me back to when you were little, because it's my understanding that you were singing around the house when you were, like, a little bitty kid.
Keeyen Martin: Yeah. So there are tons of videos that every time my mom always likes to, like, bring them up, whether it's a family vacation or a cookout or something. I'm like, Oh, goodness, please don't show this again. But I was literally about two years old, and my grandmother, she would sit me in a chair. She was sit at the piano and she would just play the piano, sing these songs. And she would say, okay, I want you to sing it back to me. And how I knew that I was two or three because they my grandparents and my mom, they kind of like go back and forth. What was the exact age? I remember because at the time there were like VHS tapes and it cut to my third birthday party. And I was like, Oh, wait. So I really was like two years old. And I just remember my routine would be I would get dropped off at our house, I would do my homework, do all of those things, and I had to do music lessons. And so, of course, at the time, as as a child, you're like, I want to go play outside. I want to play with toys, want to play video games. They were like, Well, you got to do your homework. Then you're going to practice music because obviously they could see something that I didn't fully see at the time, which I'm very grateful for, because they really, really set the foundation of cultivating the artists that I have become today. And I always reflect on those experiences, you know, because it was a lot of just music all around me and I love singing, but I didn't fully know, I guess, the caliber of skill that I had that my family started to cultivate in me.
Jeremy Powell: I want to address something You said that your dad is a pastor, but you also were listening to Outkast in the house. How does that go hand-in-hand?
Keeyen Martin: That is always filled with fun memories, because I had a lot of friends that had very strict households, you know. But for me, one, my dad, before he went into ministry full time, he was like a jazz and blues singer. Like, my mom always tells the story of how they met. It was at a club that he was singing. He was in like his Temptations era and wooed her. And I was very grateful that they would always just play off of vinyls, I remember. And cassettes And being a kid, when they bought me my first CD player, they would always play everything from Outkast to Aretha Franklin to Whitney Houston to Ella Fitzgerald and one of my favorite singers that I fell in love with her voice, Judy Garland, and just a lot of different genres of music. They love Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, you know? And I just remember all throughout my childhood hearing all these examples, and I was very grateful because my friends would always say, we only can listen to, you know, sacred music here or whatever genre, but they didn't limit my reach. And that taught me one. As I soaking in genres, I would try to imitate, you know, this artist that artist I started getting into songwriting and because my experience was so vast, you know, I definitely think it allowed me to just approach music in a very free way. And I wasn't, I would say, just niched with the genre because that was all I was allowed to listen to.
The Peach Jam podcast from GPB features songs and stories from a variety of the incredibly talented and diverse bands and artists who call the Peach State home.
Recorded live in our GPB studios, you get a front row seat for the intimate musical performances and free-flowing conversation from a truly eclectic variety of Georgia musicians. You can find more at GPB.org/PeachJamPodcast — please download and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform as well.