LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Gregg Martinez, the soul-singing bus driver from Opelousas, has enjoyed some high-profile fans in his 42 years in music. In the 1980s, one woman couldn’t stop clapping and smiling during a casino show in Atlantic City, NJ.
She turned out to be the owner’s wife — Ivana Trump. Martinez received a four-year contract to perform exclusively at the casino.
After Martinez’s 2005 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival performance, the late Ed Bradley of “60 Minutes” fame called Martinez one of America’s greatest hidden treasures.
Those compliments now rival new recognition for Martinez. His latest CD, “Soul of the Bayou,” stands at No. 5 on the Roots Music Report’s R&B Top 10 Albums chart.
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Martinez’s album, which moved up 10 spots in a week, is head of releases from Aretha Franklin, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige and other R&B stars. Martinez is relishing the attention.
“It’s not Billboard, but it’s something,” said Martinez. “I’ve never been on a national chart that high.
“I’m one of those proverbial, slip-through-the-cracks guys. This 61-year-old, bald-headed, white guy in Opelousas is two spots ahead of Aretha. That’s pretty cool.”
Billed as the number one independent music chart in the world, RMR compiles radio airplay data from stations across the globe. Stations report the number of times they’ve played an album into a database that totals all spins reported for that week.
The notoriety is not bad for a CD that was released 18 months ago on Louisiana Red Hot Records of New Orleans. The 11th album of Martinez’s career contains an outstanding cover of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” along with reworks of Bobby Blue Bland’s “You’ve Got to Hurt Before You Heal” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain” from Ann Peebles. “That Old Wind,” a Martinez original, features slide guitar ace Sonny…