It wasn’t a typical lunch break. But then again, Amanda Martinez wasn’t a typical Associate Director of Trade Finance for Latin America.
She was an actress too, working on television and in musical theatre, but even aside from dabbling with the screen and stage, Martinez wanted to sing. More than five years ago, she was on her lunch during a typically hurried day but took a moment to swing by BCE Place.
“They were having this summer concert series and Amy Sky was performing with her daughter,” Martinez recalls, “and I just got really emotional. I thought: My god, I would really love to just get up on that stage and just sing. That was the first point when I really realized that I wasn’t being fair to myself, that I was just going along with what everyone else was saying.
I realized it was now or never.”
She picked “now.” Martinez took time off from work — where, she admits, she sometimes felt like an “imposter” — to collect her thoughts and lifelong yearnings before walking into a jazz club in North York.
“I asked them if I could sing,” she says simply. “They asked if I had a demo, I said no but I will sing for you. I ended up singing with the house band … and the owner ended up giving me a Monday night gig.” She adds, with a chuckle: “I used to be in sales so I guess I persuaded him to at least let me try.”
Today, she’s a singer, actor, broadcaster and presenter who hosts Café Latino on JAZZFM and finds herself contentedly nestled between her debut album Sola, a Latin-flavoured fusion record released last year, and working on a follow-up for the fall.
And with so many portions on her plate, Martinez stands by her singing as the first and foremost “rush” in her life.
“For me, it’s about the music,” she says. “Just performing in front of people. That’s one of the things that amazed me, just in the five years that I’ve been singing — I’ve met so many different people, from so many walks of life, that I don’t think I would’ve normally encountered apart from the fact that they just really connected to the music. And I’ve gotten to know them that way.”
Amanda Martinez performs tomorrow night at the Michael Young Theatre in the Distillery District as part of the Luminato Festival.