‘I’m not ready to give up’: Catching up With Christina Martin

Christina Martin is an award-winning singer-songwriter based in Port Howe, Nova Scotia.
Photo credit: Sarah Jamer.

Two years ago, Christina Martin, accompanied by her husband, Dale Murray, performed live in Fredericton as part of her Wonderful Lie tour. It feels so long ago and far away, like a dream. If it were not for the signed album in my car, I would not believe that I was there that night in November. 

My signed copy of Wonderful Lie is like an artifact: a link to another time. There was an informal line-up to talk with Christina during the break. The audience talked amongst themselves in the meantime. Some refreshed their drinks, while others stepped outside for a smoke. The venue saw new faces come inside for the performance, with jackets over what seats remained. The sound of chatter and laughter grew louder and louder. And then, all attention returned to Christina and Dale. Oh, to be in a crowd again.

I struggle to keep track of time, and yet I have never been so keenly aware of time. Almost every conversation I’m in has someone say, “Well, you know, back when things were normal.” And so, I have made a collage, like you used to make from old magazines, to tell this story of an artist trying to keep the music and her mission alive after the world stops turning. While you reflect on the continued absence of live performance, I hope you also feel inspired to support local talent in whatever way is possible for you right now.

March 10, 2020 
Strasbourg, France
Facebook Live

Christina Martin:
So, a little bit of an update. Things seem to be progressing with the coronavirus where we are. We had one show cancelled, just one, in Germany. Of course, this means a loss of revenue. Our priority is that everyone is safe, so you’ve got to suck it up. It’s just money, but it’s still depressing. There might be more cancellations. It’s a day by day thing. We’re lucky that nothing else has been cancelled yet, but I did receive a concerning email that there could be more shows cancelling.

Hopefully, y’all are safe and sound. I’ve noticed that people at our shows are not shaking hands anymore. Sick people are staying home. If somebody is a close talker, I’ve been getting used to putting my hand out and showing people where they need to stand. It’s not the time to be close talking. It goes against our natural tendencies, but these are times where you don’t want to get infected or spread anything

It’s a little stressful as this tour was a big financial investment. We were hoping to pay down a lot of debt because we had a lot of shows booked. We are hoping no more shows are cancelled. Everything is on until we announce otherwise.

You guys stay safe. We’ll keep you informed.

Live at the Marquee Ballroom: Impossible to Hold
Christina Martin addressing the audience
Recorded live, September 14, 2018, at The Marquee Ballroom in Halifax, Nova Scotia

All these wonderful people on stage tonight. Thank you all for your talent, your time, and your friendship, assuming we are friends. 

These next two songs are really about us making friends with the darkness, the creative droughts, and the financial droughts. And just fucking persevering and persisting. Because when you do that in this business, you get to have wonderful nights like tonight with all of you. Thank you so much, let’s have some fun.

March 12, 2020
Facebook Live 

Things have been progressing pretty fast here and around the world. Three days ago, we did not expect that we would be cancelling shows or any part of our tour. That changed quite quickly. 

We are right now sitting in a very long queue trying to drive back to Germany from France. I have never seen this before. Usually, it’s free to drive between countries in Europe. Germany is taking precautions and stopping everybody. I hope that we can get through.

We just made the decision. I think we’re going to have to cancel the rest of this tour, including the Poland dates. I have to email everybody. I still haven’t done that yet. You’re finding out before anyone else. I think everyone is expecting that. The word is more and more things are shutting down to keep people safe. We want to support that.

We are safe, and we do feel healthy. We are just bummed out because of this decision to cancel the rest of our European tour dates. We are still planning on doing the UK tour. We’ll just have to make arrangements to fly from Canada to the UK if everything is clear at that point. It sucks, but it’s the way it is right now for a lot of people. We have a lot of friends who had to cancel their tours here. We heard that the JUNO Awards back home are cancelled.

I apologize for venues who are finding out from me on Facebook Live.

Alright, see you guys.

Excerpt from Christina Martin Talks New Album, Life on the Road, and Taking Care of Business
October 28, 2019 / Joyful Magpies

It is a sleepy morning for [Christina Martin], home after touring Newfoundland. Martin and her husband/guitarist Dale Murray are enjoying two days of rest before hitting the road again in the morning. Their Canadian tour will take them as far as British Colombia.

Last month, Martin released Wonderful Lie, the award-winning musician’s seventh album. As part of the Wonderful Lie Tour, the singer-songwriter will perform in Fredericton at The Muse Cafe, November 22. The venue is not far from where Martin grew up in the capital city.

Live at the Marquee Ballroom: Impossible to Hold
Christina Martin introducing Keep Me Calm
September 14, 2018 

This next song was inspired by my best friend, someone who has been almost unconditionally loving and supporting. There was one condition: I did have to marry the fucking guy. This song is called Keep Me Calm.

Baby keep me calm tonight
I can’t believe things turned so fast
Baby, keep me calm until I
Find my way to a pretty truce

This gets harder
With every pulse, my heart breaks
We get stronger
The taste of sweet joy when we hit the stage
Until then baby keep me calm

Baby sing our song tonight
Help me remember why I still fight
Baby pressures on, I carry
All the worries, I want to let it go

October 20, 2020
Phone Interview


When you watch a movie or TV show, do you get anxious when you see people close together?

I’m watching Parks and Rec right now. Andy will hug Chris, and it makes me think about hugging. We can’t do that anymore. Some people do, but I don’t. Will there be a time where it’ll be safe to hug again, or is hugging over? 

I saw you perform last year here in Fredericton. That was an intimate setting. Who knows when that will happen again?

I know that the venue is still having shows, and that’s great. I postponed my show there. We were supposed to do something on October 17th. It’s hard to sell tickets right now. People are tapped out from online events and worrying about contracting COVID-19. I can’t afford to cancel because of an outbreak.

I’d love to be the one who says, by next spring, this will all be over. We also said it’d be done by now, and it’s getting worse, I guess? I try staying away from the news and the COVID-19 numbers. Do you do that? I stopped because there’s nothing I can do besides what I can do to protect myself. What’s one more thing I can do to get on with life? I am going to stop reading the news about this specific thing because there’s nothing I can do. I’m sure I’ll hear about it when there’s a vaccine ready. Until then, I’m pretending that it’s everywhere.

Live at the Marquee Ballroom: Impossible to Hold
Lyrics from Keep Me Calm

Baby keep me calm
I could use your strength
Baby you’re so strong
Will you keep me calm

October 20, 2020
Phone Interview


Let’s go back to March. In a livestream from France, you announced that one of your shows had been cancelled. You were hoping to have no more shows cancelled. What was going through your mind at the time?

It feels wild right now to think about my mindset where I was at the time. It just speaks to the inexperience of ever living in a pandemic and understanding the severity of it. We were travelling with no masks, and we were doing shows.

Dale and I were asking ourselves, what if this ramps up? This is our livelihood. If this goes bust, I thought, how am I going to survive financially? This can’t happen. What can I do to keep any of this going? We were talking about staying and playing whatever shows weren’t cancelled. We were just grasping onto this idea that we could keep things going. Maybe in a week or two, this thing will blow over. It’s unbelievable that I was thinking that. We just didn’t understand the severity of it.

When the Canadian government urged Canadians to return home, I think that was it for us. I had to shut off that part of my brain that was concerned about the consequences for my business, and I put our health and safety first. That’s when I made the call. We had a few more cancellations that week, which confirmed that the pandemic was going to keep going for a while. When the decision is made for you, it’s a lot easier. 

When you got home, did you give yourself some time to deflate, or were you right back to work?

Hell, no. I hit the ground running. How am I going to pick up the pieces? I had to dig into my finances. I had to ask around about support. I had to do final reports for the tour. I was concerned about money. I still am, but it was extremely heightened at that point. Every day since then, I get up at 7 a.m, and I go to work. There might be days where I crash, but it’s been a consistent “how am I going to adapt?”

September 14, 2018: Christina Martin performing live at The Marquee Ballroom in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

January 5, 2018 
Christina Martin’s first time on Facebook Live

Am I live? I’m waiting for Dale Murray, my co-producer. He’s sitting over there. I am waiting for him to give me a heads up to let me know if this is working. We have been on Facebook Live for 26 seconds, and I am nearly paralyzed with fear. I am so excited about this. 

Later, I am going to talk about my goals, and hopes, and dreams for Facebook Live. I feel like such a dork. I feel like this is something people have been doing forever. I was scared, and I put it off. It’s like the skinny jeans thing. I was the last one to join that train, and now I’m stuck. I’m hooked on skinny jeans.

I think this will be a powerful way to connect with people.

October 20, 2020
Phone Interview


We learned quickly how dependent we would be on the internet and how shitty our bandwidth is living in rural Nova Scotia. Our upload speed hovers between 0.2 and 1.0 mbps. That’s been really hard.

I was fortunate coming into this that I was already thinking, what can we do online? I didn’t know I had so much to learn when COVID-19 hit. It’s a whole other ballgame. It’s so stressful when you try to go live, and people are complaining because there’s a delay. In a room, you can unplug your guitar and play for people. It’s not the same when you have shitty internet.

Did you ever imagine that you would be so online-oriented?

I wanted to focus on being a better onstage performer. Bells and whistles aside, I do find immense value in connecting with people around the world. It’s sort of like picking up the phone. I think that’s what has kept me going, connecting with people and seeing their responses. 

March 27, 2020
Facebook Post

I’m taking advantage of the time I have at home to work and rest and maybe build a garden once the snow melts. I am dreaming of, and looking forward to, days when we can venture outside, and work together in close proximity again. Maybe I’ll go out dancing more. I wonder how this will change things. Will it be better or worse? Will we be stronger?

October 20, 2020
Phone Interview


How’s Dale doing?

He’s doing well. He is more handsome every day. He’s helping a friend trim bud. We might have to find other jobs. Everybody else is probably having to do the same thing. Nothing you want to do, but yeah, that could happen, that we have to do something else.

This past year, have you at any point thought, well, this is the end of the road? We had a good run. It’s time to live a less complicated life.

I’m not there yet where I’m ready to give up on what I’ve built. We moved out here to create a certain kind of life. We don’t know if things will be fine next year. I’m not ready to give up on fully dedicating myself to a life as a career artist. If we can make it through a pandemic doing the work we love, then hopefully, we will be stronger and wiser.

February 28, 2021
Facebook Live

Welcome to episode 21 of Cabin Fever. It’s Sunday, February 28th. I had to check. I have to check every day what day it is. A lot of days feel the same over here, and I’m sure in your household, too. That’s why it’s important to shake things up a bit.

How has your week been, everybody? Everything is fine over here. I will admit to feeling a little blocked in my work. There’s so many things I want to be doing. I’m not complaining, but sometimes I get impatient. You can only do so much. Take things one day at a time. Enjoy the work! I’m talking myself into a better place, so thank you for listening.

March 19, 2021
Phone Interview


How is your morning going so far? 

I have been working on a Canada Council application all morning. That involves creating budgets, describing something you have not created yet, and putting value to your art and other people’s involvement.

After so many years of writing applications, has the process gotten any easier?

I think there’s some solace in knowing that you’ve done certain things before and have come out alright. But when you are trying to do something new with your work, it will feel uncomfortable, and that’s a good place to be in.

Back in October, you talked about working on a new album.

Dale and I started work on my new album in January. I had written most of the songs by last summer. We rented the Capitol Theatre in Oxford, Nova Scotia, so we could better follow pandemic safety precautions. We rented local accommodations in Cumberland County for the musicians. It was wonderful to make music with friends again.

We are in the mixing and trial-and-error stage of the new record. Simultaneously, I am trying to map out what I want to do with the artwork, live presentation, and music videos over the next year.

It’s coming together. We are excited about the music and how it’s sounding.

It has now been a year since you and Dale returned home from your European tour. What have you learned from this past year? 

We’re not really in control as much as we like to think we are. Also, we need to learn to slow down and simplify our lives. The global environmental crisis: that has been on my mind, too. We live in a world that is obsessed with making money and consuming. Let’s not forget what’s going on and how we ended up here. Otherwise, things are going to look even worse in our lifetime.


Follow Christina Martin

Bandcamp / Facebook / Patreon / YouTube

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