Martha Groves Perry - Exclusive Interview
Martha Groves Perry is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She
began her recording career as a cello soloist on classical, rock, and folk CDs by Michèle Sharik, Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon, and Mira Wooten. She has toured with Michelle Shocked and has also performed with Tony Lindsay, Skip Edwards, James Nash, Jesse Brewster, Rich Armstrong, Crystal Monee Hall, Uriah Duffy, and Greg Tanner Harris. In addition to her instrumental work as a cello soloist, Martha plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, and percussion. Her CD These Hands was released on March 1, 2020.
For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?
Another three, courtesy of my producer, Kenny Schick (b3pmusic.com) are: “journaling in poetry”
When you are writing a song, where do you draw inspiration from? Or what topics do you like to sing about?
I’ve blogged about how the melodies come from dreams, and the writing is about trying to figure out what that melody is doing … what the song is about and what it wants to say. My producer has called my songs “journaling in poetry.” That’s pretty accurate because I always journal first to figure out what the melody is doing and what the song is about, then I grab lines from my journaling to start the process of putting the song together.
My inspiration is mostly what I notice about things … myself, the people around me, the experience of being human, realizations I’ve come to, whatever. My music is very personal and seeks to share my experience, and through that process, people identify and recognize their own thoughts and experience in the songs. I have had people fall into my arms weeping after a show because one of my songs touched them so deeply. Another woman said that one of my songs “finished sentences” for her. I try to reflect what I have experienced as truth, so others can recognize the same truth in their own lives.
Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing?
Enjoying fine art (my new day job is in a commercial art gallery)
Travel Jogging and walking along the San Francisco shoreline
Watching my two professional ballet dancer children perform
Running around San Francisco with my husband
Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?
Many of my songs are very emotional, but I’ll tell you about one that is particularly poignant.
"Threshold" is a joyful song about my last experience with my 100-year-old grandmother, who passed away a few weeks afterwards in Kentucky in 2017. She had slipped into “senility” according to the nursing staff, meaning not present or aware of her surroundings. At one point, however, in response to my kiss on her forehead, she “woke up” and looked, spoke, and smiled directly into my soul. Everything got warm, bright, and clear, and it was just us for a moment, someplace else – bathed in love and grace. It was overwhelming and as beautiful as anything I’ve ever experienced.
I journaled about it as thoroughly as I could afterwards, so I would not forget. I then wrote the song using melodies that came to me in dreams the night after I saw her, knowing they were for this song.
The response to this song when I play it live is often intense because the song is full of joy and longing. I have had audience members fall into my arms weeping after the show because lots of people have experienced this kind of loss that is both sad and beautiful, human and other-worldly. It’s a great reminder (and encouragement) that sometimes I can use my craft to speak into the tenderest places, and I take that sacred opportunity with care and joy. I love what Kenny Schick, my producer (b3pmusic.com), did with the song, particularly going into the last verse describing this supernatural experience.
What was the first song or piece you ever wrote!?
The first musical writing effort I ever did was a piece called “The Falling Song” that I “wrote” on the piano. I was probably 8 or 10 years old, and the song was basically just a serious of descending arpeggios. It was the experience of writing this song that made me decide I had what I called a “dead ear” and would never be able to write music of my own. It’s a pity I wasn’t a little more patient with myself, but I obviously got over it …
What is your dream gig? Is there a gig that you really want that would be the ultimate show for you?
My dream, such as it is, would be to have enough of a following to fill a place like the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. A mid-point dream is that more people who don’t know me personally love my music and come to my shows … in other words, that my music has a significant draw that does not depend on my personal relationships – for which I’m grateful of course! I would love for my music alone to bring people to my shows. I love sharing my music with people, seeing how it affects them and (hopefully) feeds them. I love when friends and family come to my shows, and I especially love when people who happen to be there (at a coffee shop, or whatever) really connect with my music. It helps me to realize that maybe my songs are pretty good just on their own …
My *real* dream is that the audience knows and loves my music enough to sing along with me. I can’t imagine how incredible that would be.
Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?
I’m pretty much always working on new material. I’ve blogged about my process… that the melodies all come to me while I sleep, and they come pretty regularly. The question is always if I take the time to get them into a song. Having just released a new LP, I’ll be focusing this next year or so on playing out at least once a month, returning to places I’ve played before for sure, but also expanding my scope. I’m contemplating a small tour from Milwaukee WI to Birmingham AL that I call my couch-surfing tour. I have friends and family in the cities all down that corridor I can stay with, so it’s appealing, both because I’ll avoid hotel costs and because I’ll pretty much have a guarantee of at least a few people at each show. We’ll see how that works out.
Tell us where fans can access your music.
To purchase downloads, the best place is Bandcamp.com because their administrative fees are low, which means the artist gets more of the proceeds.
For physical CDs, supporters can always contact me through my artist website at or through the dedicated website for These Hands. I do have physical CDs at CDBaby.com, but they are closing their online store at the end of March 2020, so I need to get my own online store up and running, clearly, so that’s coming up soon …