Although Martha Christian’s musical talent is obvious to anyone who has heard her sing, this young Wears Valley resident’s own “Aha” moment occurred just a couple of years ago when she won the Gatlinburg Hard Rock Café’s musical competition.
Martha Werner Christian (daughter of Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner) grew up around Christian (that is, “Christ…ian”) music with her parents in Illinois. In fact, famed singer Steve Camp actually heard her sing at age three and commented that this little girl had talent. After the family moved to East Tennessee, Martha continued to enjoy singing, writing music, playing the flute, and singing under Ruth Lewis’ choral tutelage at Gatlinburg Pittman High School.
While at GP, Martha also enjoyed the company of another student, Joel Christian; so much so that she married him a few years later after graduation. Martha and Joel both enjoy music and use their skills in service to God through their church (Martha is the Director of Music at Evergreen Presbyterian Church). They have also stayed busy having four beautiful children over the course of five years, so it is no wonder that Martha had not heretofore been able to seriously pursue a future in the music industry.
That changed with her win in the 2011 Hard Rock Café regional competition. As a result of that win, Martha was immediately exposed to some of the music industry giants in Nashville, and she soon realized that while she is a great singer, she is also an excellent songwriter.
For the past two years, Martha has been coached and produced by local musician Tim Norris. This relationship has resulted in the recent release of Martha’s first CD, “Dare You to Trust Me.” The songs are all written and performed by Martha, and all the background music is played by Tim. Also, Tim produced the CD.
While Martha is frequently asked to perform in other regional areas, she especially likes performing locally for the “hometown” and tourist crowd. On Friday night, October 26, she will be at Hard Rock Café, and sometimes you may also find her at the Old Smoky Moonshine Holler. Additionally, 96.3, a local gospel radio station, and I-105 out of Knoxville both frequently play songs from the new CD.
Martha’s music is generally labeled “Christian contemporary” although she does not like such labeling. Martha says her songs are “meant to ruffle feathers” and considers them to be “perhaps too honest for churches yet too Christian for bar rooms.” She does say they are real life.
There is no tip jar when Martha sings at Hard Rock. She considers her music to be a gift to the patrons of the restaurant and says it is an honor and privilege to be able to perform there. During a recent performance there, a lone man continued to stay and listen to her sing and seemed to be especially touched by the song “Dare You to Trust Me.” Upon his departure, he looked for the tip jar and couldn’t find it. This gave Martha the opportunity to visit one on one with him. As Martha says, “Every person on this planet is looking for whom he can trust. That man is no different than you or me.”
For a really good time, mark your calendars for Saturday, October 20, 2012. Martha will be performing a 5 p.m. concert at the annual Wears Valley OktoberFest. The event is FREE to the public, and in addition to the concert, you and your family can enjoy all that a SmokyMountains fall night has to offer as you enjoy the beautiful colors of the trees on the mountains, crisp fall air, freshly baked apple pies, and the fellowship of friends from near and far.
Additionally, you can enjoy the local talent of others in our area. The “Stars of the Smokies” musical competition will be held at the OktoberFest (in fact, Martha is one of the judges). These aspiring musicians may not be quite the caliber of the Von Trapp Family (from the movie, The Sound of Music), but then none of them will be forced to escape into the mountains afterwards as the Von Trapps were in order to avoid capture by the Nazis.