Martin Kerr: A Successful Musician
How Martin Kerr continues to stay optimistic, even during dire times

By Jordyn Potratz

Martin Kerr is many things; he is a singer and songwriter, traveller, father, husband, and plenty more. Martin Kerr’s persona and music are shaped by a multitude of experiences, people, and places.

Growing up in a tiny town called Oakham, located in England, Martin was able to be brought up in a way in which he absorbed many lessons from his parents and the adventures they took him on. These lessons and experiences sculpted him into the musician he is today. He mentions,

“my parents always raised me to see myself as a world citizen, and any spare money
that we ever had would be spent on going traveling, even if it was sleeping in the
back of the car at the side of the road trip driving around Europe.”

These trips surrounded Martin with other cultures and languages, which sparked his lasting love for travel and adventures; this comes through in his music.

Martin began writing songs at an incredibly young age; however, at the time, he did not know that is what he was doing,

“I would make up little ditties to myself.”

It was not until he picked up the guitar and started writing love songs for girls that barely knew him, but he was in love with– a theme of unrequited love that many teenage songwriters use to get started. His musical talents do not just focus on singing, song writing, and guitar but also stretch out to the piano. Speaking of musical instruments, Martin never truly learned how to play the scales on the guitar nor the piano. Instead, he understands where to place his fingers to make harmonically composed music.  

Martin Kerr now resides in Edmonton, AB, a place he calls home. He has lived in Edmonton for 15 years now. Most musicians struggle and have the challenge of being a part of the community. Martin is connected and a part of the community here through his stay-home street concerts. Martin began his career as a busker at farmer’s markets, so transitioning over to street performances “felt very comfortable” for him. The street performances were so heavily loved by his fans in Edmonton that Martin “was amazed how much it took off” and mentions doing “almost 300 shows last year just from April to September.” Martin has not just done street concerts, but he has also done a massive performance at Rodgers Place with Sarah McLachlan. However, in a way, these street performances prepared him for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic still heavily affects people and their careers worldwide, yet Martin uses the pandemic to his advantage. His Bahai faith, alongside his deep connection to Edmonton, the community, and his fans, has made viewing and dealing with the pandemic a unique experience compared to the opposing views and experiences most people associate with COVID-19. The pandemic “was very worrying and disappointing in the beginning” for Martin and his career since big touring plans to play festivals and theatres across Canada and beyond had to be cancelled. Still, he found silver linings like spending more time with his family, travelling, and getting to know Edmonton better.

For most musicians, building a sustainable life and focusing on their mental health while constantly being on the road is a big challenge. However, Martin is lucky enough to have many fans located in Edmonton, AB; this way, Martin can focus his energy on being a real husband and father while being a part of the community. He can live like this because he mentions,

“I opted out of the traditional model of the music business and tried to make one
up for myself, which involved being very flexible and learning to connect
with different groups of people of different ages and backgrounds.”

Opting out of the traditional model of the music business has benefited him in many ways. We can see this through his persona, his successful career, and how he dealt with COVID-19, and we will continue to see this during his future music collaborations, performances, and the rest of his profession.

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*Photos from Martin Kerr’s website

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