Five Minutes With: Toronto Singer Martha Johnson

Martha Johnson is a founding member and the lead singer of the Canadian art-pop band Martha and the Muffins which formed in 1977. Her career, spanning more than four decades and eleven albums, three of which were co-produced with Daniel Lanois, has had many highlights: the worldwide success of ‘Echo Beach’ (JUNO Award for Single of the Year, 1980), touring the UK with Roxy Music, reaching number 2 in the US Billboard Dance charts with ‘Black Stations/White Stations’, and finding herself with another top 10 hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the song ‘Troy’ that she co-wrote with German hip hop group Die Fantastischen Vier. The song went on to be used in the O2 mobile phone company’s advertising campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

After the birth of her daughter, Martha released ‘Songs From The Tree House’, a collection of children’s songs. The album was recognized with another JUNO Award for Best Children’s Album in 1996. She then embarked on a career as a children’s performer for several years with Prologue To The Performing Arts. In 2000, Martha was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and was eventually forced to stop performing live. She instead concentrated on recording projects, Martha and the Muffins reissues and new releases.

In 2013, Martha released her debut solo album ‘SOLO•ONE’ with co-producers Ray Dillard and Mark Gane. She co-wrote three songs for the album with JUNO Songwriter of the Year winner Ron Sexsmith. Today, Martha continues to collaborate with younger singer/songwriters and work on new recording projects.

Recently, a Martha and the Muffins cover version of the Buffalo Springfield classic ‘For What It’s Worth’ generated over fifty thousand views on YouTube.

Martha’s latest endeavour began with the suggestion of her neurologist, Dr. Fasano at Krembil Research Institute/University Health Network in Toronto. He encouraged her to collaborate on a song with another of his patients, songwriter/musician Fabio Dwyer, to help promote awareness of Parkinson’s to a wider audience. The resulting song, ‘Slow Emotion’, was largely performed by musicians and singers with PD and was released worldwide on all platforms on April 11, 2024, which is World Parkinson’s Day. With the support of Krembil Research Institute/University Health Network and Parkinson Canada, there is an accompanying documentary by Toronto filmmaker Jason Cipparrone on the making of the song.

Martha Johnson
Photo by: Mark Gane


Martha Johnson


Over 40+ years it’s been New Wave, Punk Funk, Ambient, 80s Dance, Art pop etc…


Martha and the Muffins in 1977 with Mark Gane and David Millar.

# of Albums:


Latest Album:

Marthology: In and Outtakes (2021 as Martha and the Muffins)

Latest Single:

Slow Emotion (as Martha and Company)

Latest Video:

Favourite musician growing up:

The Beatles

Favourite musician now:

The Weather Station

Guilty pleasure song:

‘Love Began With Eve’ by Martha and the Muffins. I feel guilty picking our own song but it is so special to me because Mark (my partner) sings the song with our daughter Eve. The lyrics are from the heart and I sometimes cry when I hear it.

Live show ritual:

I don’t play live anymore due to my Parkinson’s symptoms which have slowly progressed over the years. I simply don’t have enough energy to perform on stage. I used to smell the microphone before I went on to make sure it didn’t smell awful like the microphone I was given at a club in the States somewhere. When I complained about the smelly mic I was told Joe Cocker had been there the night before.

Favourite local musician:

John Orpheus

EP or LP?

LP. I like getting the whole big picture of what an artist is all about.

Early bird or night owl?

Neither really. I get into bed around 11:00 pm and read my book for a while then I hopefully go right to sleep. On a good night, I might get 7 hours of disjointed sleep.

Road or studio?

I prefer the studio but we had exciting shows in the past that I remember well having played with The B52, Roxy Music, Simple Minds, Eurythmics and others.

Any shows or albums coming up?

We have footage from a Martha and the Muffins tribute night that was about 10 years ago at The Rivoli in Toronto featuring a lot of great artists doing MatM cover versions. We’d like to put that out as a documentary.

Where can we follow you?

Website | Youtube | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp


Rapid Fire Local Questions:

What is your favourite local restaurant?

Vivetha Bistro in The Beaches

What is your favourite street in your city and why?

Broadview Ave at Riverdale Park and The Rooster Cafe. It’s the most spectacular view of the city skyline.

What is your favourite park in your city and why?

The Evergreen Brickworks in the Don Valley. It feels like the middle of the country. I watch the seasons change there throughout the year.

What is your favourite music venue in your city?

Koerner Hall, beautiful aesthetically and sonically.

What is your favourite music store in your city?

Kops Records on The Danforth