Part of CCM Magazine‘s The Conversations Issue (Dec. 1, 2017), CLICK HERE for Andrew Greer’s intro to this issue | Wherever he goes, Marc Martel makes quite the impression. Though he cut his professional musical teeth on the sophisticated sounds of his highly applauded Christian pop-rock band, Downhere, more recently the vocalist extraordinaire has piqued the eyes and ears of hundreds of thousands of households across the world as the leading man for the official Queen tribute show, Queen Extravaganza—the result of a personal recruitment by the band’s living legend members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, in 2012.
After his recording of “What Child Is This?” showed up in the Top 10 at Christian radio last year—a return to his roots, of sorts—the born-and-bred Canadian singer-songwriter began thinking through a second seasonal set list, beautifully collected on this year’s The First Noel EP (buy). Comprised mainly of faith-focused holiday songs, the six-song record dazzlingly demonstrates the light of Martel’s spiritual heart through the purest offering of his golden-throated chops.
Whether wowing an American Idol audience, wooing vocal legend Celine Dion (by request of Ms. Dion, I might add), or charming capacity crowds as a part of this year’s K-Love Christmas Tour, Martel carries his spiritual roots with him whatever platform his musical prowess affords him—also affording us this thoughtful conversation about art and faith at Christmas.
CCM Magazine: What is the Christmas experience like for you, being from the “Great White North?”
Marc Martel: Christmas is one of those [holidays] that is spread across North America pretty evenly. Well, I don’t know that much about Mexico, but I think Canada and U.S. Christmases are pretty monogamous. Monagamous?
MM: It was the quintessential North American Christmas, but with a French Canadian flare. The food might have been a little different, but we always spent the night in a sleepover with the cousins and the grandparents. My dad, being a pastor, the spiritual side was very important—very present.