“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Creative Amanda Martinez

Amanda Martinez has had a calling to perform since a young child. After attending ballet and musical drama summer camps, her love for the stage blossomed in high school with lead roles as Rizzo in Grease and Evillene in The Wiz. Although she pursued a degree in biology at The University of Western she would come home on weekends to perform in her first professional production at Stage West Dinner Theatre, and landed small roles on television the same year. However, it wasn’t until years later after completing a masters in international business and accepting a position in trade finance at TD Bank that she realized she needed to pursue music professionally. Amanda was offered her first weekly singing gig at Alleycatz, a local jazz club, by the owner himself and named her weekly sessions “Martini Mondays”. Her regular Monday night gig led to monthly gigs at Roncesvalles’ Gate 403 as well as a lead weekend act at Yorkville’s popular Sassafraz. Around the same time, Amanda became host of Ontario Lottery Tonight on City TV and subsequently joined JazzFM91 as producer and host of Café Latino where she developed a large music fan base.

Along with her now longtime guitarist Kevin Laliberte as well as Cuban bandmates, Rosendo “Chendy” Leon, Osvaldo Rodriguez and Alexander Brown, Amanda developed a passion for songwriting in Spanish , leading to her debut album, Sola, which earned her title of Best World Music artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards. Four albums later, Amanda contines to feel support and gratitude for these talented musicians who continue to record and tour with her at performing arts centres across the country.

Throughout her career, family has been important to Amanda and she started her own family after marrying the love of her life, bassist Drew Birston. Their first son Leo was born in 2008 and was the inspiration for her second album Amor which charted on iTunes world music. Amanda launched her third album Mañana after her twins Sofia and Oliver were born and collaborated with producer Javier Limon from Spain. This past June Amanda launched her latest album Libre which features various special guests bringing new influences from Soudan (Waleed Abdulhamid), Madagascar (Donne Roberts) and Costa Rica (Guadalupe Urbina) as well as her longtime friends Kellylee Evans and Pablosky Rosales.

It’s been a wild ride navigating life as an artist while raising 3 children and Amanda credits her husband for being a huge support at home with her. He also tours so the two share responsibilities when the other is on the road. She also feels very lucky to have her parents and her sister and cousins here in Toronto who are a huge support and allowed her to follow opportunities leading to performances at the World Cup in South Africa, tours to Mexico and performances at the PanAm games in Mexico and Toronto.

When Amanda isn’t performing she is often preparing for acting auditions and has been a guest on various television shows including Suits, Kim’s convenience, Designated Survivor and Regensis. In 2020 Amanda will be play Maricella in the film The Mother she Found Online and has a featured guest star role on the show Private Eyes with Jason Priestly and Cindy Sampson.

Since 2010 Amanda has been helping promote SOS Children’s villages, an organization that helps orphaned and abandoned children around the world. She traveled to Namibia to experience the work that SOS mothers do and wrote a song, Under African Skies, inspired by the experience that is on her latest album Libre. She hopes that more people will learn about the work SOS does to keep families together and support the organization that is helping keep kids thriving under difficult circumstances.

Toronto Creative Amanda Martinez
Amanda Martinez – I love connecting with my fans and friends after my concerts. This photo was taken with Dennis Yee who surprised me with a t-shirt he made of my new album! I couldnt wipe the smile off my face. It was taken after my cd launch this summer at the Toronto Jazz Festival at the Isabel Bader Theatre!
Toronto Creative Amanda Martinez
Amanda Martinez – My South African family recently moved here and we have been enjoying family gatherings and exploring Toronto. My kids especially love to go to the beach as do I!
Toronto Creative Amanda Martinez
Amanda Martinez – Growing up my Dad always took us camping and now we are continuing the tradition with our kids. My cousin Ilyana has a son my eldest’s son’s age so they always come with us! Her Dad and my Dad rode their bicycles from Mexico to Canada in 1956!! This photo was taken in Algonquin at Pog Lake.
Toronto Creative Amanda Martinez
Amanda Martinez – Our family did the Terry Fox run this year and we managed to finish before the rain came!
Family gatherings are my favorite thing to do. Here we are in my livingroom with my parents, cousins and sister and our kids. My favorite peeps in the world!
Apart from music I love acting and this photo was taken getting ready for a film I worked on this summer called the Mother she Found online. It was a great team to work with
I love to host and feel lucky that in Toronto there are so many wonderful events happening in our city. This was taken on Multicultural day where I got to host the stage at Mel Lastman Square and introduce lots of amazing artists as well as Elder Cat Criger who gave the blessing.
My eldest son Leo got to come with me to the Jazz Bistro this year as my date to hear my friend Laura perform.
I love my band and feel so supported by them over the years! This picture was taken after our concert at JAZZFM91 where we performed a live to air with music from our new album Libre with special guest Donne Roberts (left) , me, Kevin Laliberte (guitar and producer), Drew Birston(bass and my husband), Rosendo “Chendy” Leon (percussion) and Alexander Brown (trumpet)

 

What ‘hood are you in?

I live in St Clair and Bathurst area and grew up near York Mills and Bayview.

What do you do?

I am a singer and actress as well as a Mom to twin 7 year olds and an almost 11 year old! My music is a blend of Afrocuban rhythms and nouveau flamenco that I am told is soothing to the soul!

What are you currently working on?

I just launched my new album Libre and will be performing at number of different venues in Ontario and Quebec this fall. I also just finished filming a guest tv role on Private Eyes that was a lot of fun!

Where can we find your work?

You can find my music online at www.amandamartinez.ca, spotify, itunes and amazon! You can catch me live at Jazz Bistro on October 3, making my debut in Wakefield at the Black Sheep Inn on October 4th and in Montreal’s Upstairs Jazz Bar on October 5th. Hi In November I will be at Aeolian Hall on Nov 9th and at Kitchener’s Registry Theatre on November 22nd! You will be able to see me on private eyes in the upcoming season as well as in a movie called The Mother She Found Online that airs in 2020.

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1786 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography