"'Bohemian Rhapsody' is my all-time favorite," says Martel, "But that wasn’t an option; 'Somebody'…was my second....I don't know if there's a more appropriate song for the state of our country right now…it's just a guy crying out that he’s tired and can’t get ahead, and most people in America can relate to that…I know I can."
Martel was surprised by how quickly the video gained traction. "I uploaded it in the evening. The next morning it had 300 views. In the afternoon it had 600. Right around 8:15 pm the comments started piling up. I remember one was like 'the Internet has arrived and you're about to go viral, dude.' I thought, 'This can't be happening to me. No way.'"
"If I'd known it was going to be this big I would have cleaned my room," Martel says, referring to the clutter behind him in the audition video. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this, so I kind of downplayed it. I thought 'I'm just going to sing the song and see what happens."
Martel's approach may have been casual but he is a seasoned performer. He plays guitar and shares lead vocals in Downhere, a Juno-awarded Canadian band best known for its albums in the Christian Music genre. Martel formed the band, which now includes bassist Glenn Lavendar and drummer Jeremy Thiessen, 10 years ago with friend Jason Germain. Downhere recently released a critically-acclaimed album "On the Altar of Love" on Centricity Music. The band is co-headling the Called to Love tour with labelmates Aaron Shust and Jason Gray. Downhere has added a cover of "Somebody to Love" to its set in response to the ethusiasm for Martel's video.
Martel addressed how he feels about performing Queen songs in a Wall Street Journal article. "Freddie Mercury wrote songs that were real and true. Rock and roll reaches people because it's honest, and doesn’t shy away from the issues. Our music may come from a biblical standpoint but we don’t shy away from true experiences – doubt, loss, pain, sorrow – we want to deal with all of that. Queen’s repertoire deals with those emotions and feelings too and I love singing their music because at the end of the day, it's just true."
Martel just might get more opportunities to sing those songs. As part of this year’s celebration of Queen’s 40th anniversary, Queen drummer/songwriter/singer Roger Taylor launched an American talent search that will offer vocalists and musicians” the opportunity to star in the Queen Extravaganza Live Tour, featuring a band guided by Queen's vision. Auditions began September 19th at www.queenextravaganza.com and will close November 7. Fans will be able to vote on submissions starting November 14. The tour, booked by CAA, launches in 2012.
“The Queen Extravaganza will not be a traditional tribute show,” says Taylor. “It’s a brand-new show specially designed to enable fans to celebrate the music of Queen in a heart-stopping event.”
Marc Martel and Downhere Recruit Child Sponsors
Downhere has enlisted sponsors for hundreds of children through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Child sponsorship allows a donor to connect with a specific child in need and make a profound difference in that child's life, family and community.
Downhere also collaborated with Children In Need founder Christopher Redner on the Will Play For Food tour. The tour encouraged fans to reject apathy, cynicism and materialism, and to help people who suffer from hunger, poverty and disease.