There was a moment in singer Erick Martin’s life when he knew music was his calling.
It was karaoke night at the country bar Gilley’s Las Vegas just a few months after race car driver Dale Earnhardt died.
With a microphone in his hand, the lights in his face and essentially nothing to lose, Martin took a breath and belted out “The River” by Garth Brooks.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Martin said. “I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I always had friends and family tell me I should be doing this for a living. But it wasn’t until hearing it from strangers (that) I was convinced.”
Nearly 12 years later, Martin has his songs, his band and, recently, a signed contract at Reformatory Records and his first music tour.
Born and raised in Las Vegas — now a proud Henderson resident — Martin’s first encounter with music was joining a church choir.
It was nothing memorable, he admitted.
“I see photos from the past that proves I did it,” he said. “But I couldn’t tell you any details.”
He knew he loved singing but never envisioned it beyond just a hobby.
“But person after person and friend after friend just kept saying, ‘Man, what are you doing?’ ” he said.
They wanted him to turn his gifts into a career.
After his night in the spotlight doing karaoke, Martin returned to perform song after song.
But he wasn’t just willing to sing other people’s tunes. He picked up a guitar, learned to play and decided it was time to write some of his own music.
“Writing songs came pretty easy to me,” he said. “It was much easier that learning to play guitar. I feel I’m still learning that.”
His uncle, also a musician, taught him about chord progression and the basics of writing music.
“The first couple songs flowed right out of me,” he said.
Martin would see a movie or hear another song and become inspired to create.
“I’ve written songs after watching ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Varsity Blues,’ ” he said.
His dreams to make it big landed him on shows such as “American Idol.”
“I made it past the initial round, but I didn’t go any further,” he said.
While singing on television, Martin continued to make progress in the industry, developing his own band.
He described his music as country meets classic rock.
“If you change an instrument around, you can put it in any genre,” he said.
Martin began making demos of his music and playing around town, performing at places such as the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Fremont Street.
For him, nothing compares to watching people react to his music.
“It’s fun (when singing karaoke) seeing people recognize the songs,” he said. “But having people connect with your words and your music just puts it on another level.”
Through his uncle, his music demo was sent to record companies, which is how he connected with Reformatory Records.
Martin said he was initially hesitant to sign with an independent label.
But after seeing its dedication to the music and musicians, Martin was convinced this was the right decision for him.
In addition to his CD, which is slated to be out in the fall, Martin is scheduled to tour starting on Aug. 4, traveling to Colorado, Chicago and Tennessee.
Looking at long-term goals, Martin just wants to make a name for himself in the business and find his songs on the top of music charts.
When Martin isn’t playing music he works as an auto mechanic.
“I am turning wrenches by day and sing into a mic by night,” he said.
He plans to use his tour to help him land more gigs in Las Vegas.
Even though this is a dream come true, Martin knew from the moment he started singing karaoke that he would end up as a country musician.
“When I close my eyes, I can see thousands of people standing in front of me,” he said. “If I didn’t think it was possible, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
To listen to Martin’s music samples, visit reverbnation.com/erickmartin.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at email@example.com or 702-387-5201.