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Saranac native making name for herself in country music world

SARANAC Hugh and Velma Martin are proud parents. Their daughter, Amanda Martin, has become what they refer to as an overnight sensation ... in eight years. Amanda, now 27, has come a long way since her early teenage years plucking away on her first acoustic guitar at her family home in the town of Saranac. The 1999 Saranac Central High School graduate has gone from country music-lover to country music songwriter and performer, which is no surprise to her parents. She was very quiet and shy about playing. Shed hide in her bedroom, playing her guitar and singing. She didnt want anybody to hear her but wed stand by her door and listen, said Velma. We knew then that she had the music bug. That bug, said Velma, was in her blood. Amandas father as well as his mother and Velmas father were all blessed with the gift of song, she said. She was bound to get it one way or another, Velma laughed. However, Amandas love for the guitar wasnt fully realized until she got an unexpected Christmas gift when she was 14 years old. She wanted a pair of Michael Jordan sneakers, because she was into basketball, Velma said. We didnt buy them; we ended up buying her a guitar. I opened up the guitar and I was really disappointed because I was really looking forward to the shoes, Amanda recalled. The day after Christmas, Amandas parents headed to Plattsburgh to run errands, but before they left, Amanda asked her father to teach her a few chords on the guitar. When we got back, she had those right down to a science, said Velma. I couldnt believe how quickly she picked it up, Hugh said. She told me, Dad, I got those chords down. My fingers are sore, but I got those chords down. Then, she asked me if I could show her the other chords, she got those down and I kept thinking it couldnt be possible, but she did it. Not long after, Amanda began taking her guitar on the school bus to away games for the high school basketball team, turning her friends on to country music. She kept with it, pursuing her bachelors degree in music business management from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., the city known for being a Mecca for country music-lovers. It was there she was awarded the prestigious Best of Belmont which gave her the amazing opportunity to perform with Vince Gill. While in college, the mother of one of Amandas friends heard her singing in a dorm, said Hugh. The woman, who owned a local music store, helped her make connections that ultimately led her to establishing her career in the music business. After graduating Belmont in 2003, Amanda appeared on the compilation Oh Mickey, Where Art Thou? with artists Ronnie Milsap, Collin Raye and Charlie Louvin. The following year, she signed her first publishing contract with Best Built Songs, and became affiliated with Broadcast Music Inc. Amanda parlayed that accomplishment into an opening performance for Tanya Tucker at the historic Ryman Auditorium in May 2006 and regular performances on The Billy Block Show at Nashvilles Cadillac Ranch. In 2007, she was nominated as one of the shows best local artists. Amanda even made the top 125 of more than 25,000 artists who auditioned for the television show Nashville Star. Most recently, she signed endorsements with Dean Markley Strings and Boulder Creek Guitars. What is perhaps the most anticipated news in Amandas career, is the upcoming release of Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink, a song she wrote that was selected for Trace Adkins next album. I got a call saying Trace Adkins put my song on hold, which down here means he was looking at recording it, explained Amanda. Within the same week he put it on hold, he went into the studio and cut the song. It was really cool. That accomplishment is paralleled by another recent opportunity Amanda has had while in Nashville, performing a duet with Lee Greenwood. The artist, most commonly known for writing and performing his hit God Bless the USA, joined with Amanda to write and record the duet Nothin That I Wouldnt Do for You. The song is expected to appear on Greenwoods next album. When she isnt busy writing and working with fellow songwriters and music artists, Amanda is on the road, performing in Nashville, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and pretty much wherever the road takes her, she said. That road will lead close to home as Amanda performs at the upcoming WOKO 9th annual Country Club Music Festival in Essex Junction, Vt., Sunday, July 20. Amanda will be one of the opening acts for the event, which will feature artists Jason Aldean, John Anderson, Jake Owen, Jamie Lee Thurston and Rick and the Ramblers. Shes doing well for herself, said Velma, who enjoys hearing her daughters music play on WOKO 98.9. Its one busy, busy life, but she gets to go all over. Shes doing what she loves. Its just awesome when my parents call me and tell me theyve heard me on the radio because its just as much their dream as it is mine, said Amanda. Ive met quite a few goals that I came down here with. Every day is a new day and I get up and am amazed and what you can accomplish. Im doing what I was born to do, she added. Amanda Martins music is available for download on her Web site, www.amandamartin.net, and her MySpace page at www.myspace.com/amandamartinmusic. Tickets to the WOKO Country Club Music Festival are available by calling 1-802-658-1230. More information about the festival may be found at www.woko.com.

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