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Who's New ... His Father's Son

Brad Martin

Brad Martin didn't have to look far for a hero.

"My dad is my influence," he says. As Brad was growing up in Greenfield, Ohio, his father's music was literally the soundtrack of young Brad's dreams.

"Many nights his band would come over to rehearse," recalls Brad, "and I'd fall asleep to the rumble of a bass guitar and the sound of the drums."

Richard Martin put aside his own musical aspirations to spend more time with his family, but now son Brad is beginning to live out those dreams himself with his hit "Before I Knew Better."

Not surprisingly, Brad learned to enjoy singing as a child, with Dad accompanying on guitar. But he didn't seriously think about singing for a living until his teens.

"I think the first time I really wanted to do it was at a little place called the Jeffersonville Inn," he recalls. "I waited tables with my sister and my brother, and in between we would actually sing Broadway songs, of all things! But it was entertaining people, and I've always loved to entertain people."

By the time he earned his telecommunication electronics degree from Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Brad was ready to get down to business. A week after graduation, he moved to Nashville, where his degree earned him work with local film companies while he played late-night sets in nightclubs and developed his songwriting skills.

"The songs I wrote before I moved to Nashville, we probably ought to leave them in Ohio!" laughs Brad. "I'd say I wrote my first real song around 1996. I used songwriting as a tool to find myself as an artist."

It worked -- after several years working as a songwriter, Brad snagged a record deal as a singer. Now his first album -- for which he wrote most of the songs -- is set to hit stores this spring. Brad describes the sound of the CD as "a soulful experience."

But even as he awaits his debut release, the 28-year-old is really hoping to have the kind of staying power enjoyed by his heroes -- guys like Conway Twitty, Gene Watson and especially Merle Haggard.

"I didn't jump into music just to have one or two hits," he declares. "Longevity is what I'm after. And the good Lord willing, I'm going to keep that drive to write songs and make new music, but still keep the traditions of country. Just like Merle."

--Chris Neal