Tomi Martin. The Black Rock King of Atlanta.

A guest post by Madam CJ

A native of Louisville, KY Tomi grew up as a preacher’s kid listening to the radio and developing a love for the music, as well as the artists. His exposure to gospel, rock, soul and jazz made a lasting impression and perhaps as importantly, made him certain of one thing: he wanted to be a professional musician.


Moving to Atlanta was a big step for Tomi. A step that put him in the right place at the right time, to work on his skills as a guitarist and make connections that would serve him well in becoming a part of the explosive music scene in Atlanta. The city was pretty much ground zero for the indie rock and urban music activity and producers such as LA and Babyface, Dallas Austin, Organized Noize and Rodney Jerkins were turning out chart topping records for already established artists, as well as a next generation of urban, pop and rock stars. Some club gigs started people talking, the local music press writing and Tomi quickly started getting asked to play recording sessions and put bands together to back up new artists on label showcases. Without anyone realizing it, this was the foundation of one of his most valuable skills: the ability to go in the studio and play on the record then get on stage and play the record live with seamless perfection.

Tomi draws on a background influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, John Lennon, David Foster, Billie Holliday and Lenny Kravitz to blend rock, pop, R&B and hard funk into solid tracks with musical hooks that help make hit records.

His unique guitar work and creative support have been a huge part of successful records and world tours for such artists as:

John Legend
Natalie Cole
Goodie Mobb
Michael Jackson
Stevie Nicks
Donnell Jones
En Vogue
Jennifer Lopez
Toni Braxton
The Indigo Girls
Mick Jagger
T Pain
Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0 Tour and feature film Never Say Never. To date, Tomi has played on: 7 Grammy® nominated albums, 5 of which are Grammy® winners.

Tomi also has a rock band called Three 5 Human.  They are the first black rock group I ever experienced live and it blew me away back in 2001. They have toured with the Indigo Girls and they have a live dvd coming out in 2015.

When did you know you had the gift of music,specifically songwriting and guitar playing?

 I never knew early on that I had a so called “gift” because in my family growing up,that’s just what we did. EVERYbody played or sang well. So I never felt special until I was well into the industry and a close friend pointed it out to me.

You have worked with certified, millions of record selling legends. Who was by far your favorite to work with?

By far my favorite was Madonna followed closley by Stevie Nicks. Mo is SOO different than her image. That is the most gracious,down home,giving mom I know in the industry. She spares no expense to keep her camp happy. Love her. Stevie is just…STEVIE! I mean,it’s the Gold Dust Woman herself. Plus she makes you feel like she’s your family.

Where do you see live music in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years I hope to see live music just that. Live. Hopefully VH1,MTV and the like will be long gone. It will be for the best!

You have your own band called, Three 5 Human. Please tell those unaware what the name means.

Three5Human is a reference to the 3/5ths compromise when blacks were allowed to vote but only counted as 3/5ths the vote. 

When can we expect the live music DVD for Three 5 Human to be released? 

New music from Three5Human will be released when the universe says to us “”. Lol But we are hopeing to hear that “voice” early next year 2015.

Will you all be touring again with the Indigo Girls?

I can’t say if we will be touring at all in the states. If Amy & Emily call us we are ALWAYS gonna go. They are credited with putting us in front of a mass audience first! The Indigo Girls are the real deal to us and we love them forever.

Wildflower Martin(Tomi’s daughter transitioned this past summer from an asthma attack). She now has her memory solidified in a dance scholarship at Maynard Jackson High School here in Atlanta and now she has been memorialized via Goodsell Amps. I know its hard losing a child, but how do these accomplishments feel?

My daughter was/is a lighting rod for happiness and change before I even knew it. I learned just as much from her about life in her 19 years with me as I have my whole existence. For Richard Goodsell (Goodsell Amplification) to make an amp in her honor is only fitting because she was a kick ass guitarist by 14! Most people don’t know Wildflower was in Guitar World Magazine as a “New Players” feature..I on the other hand have NEVER been in a major guitar mag YET! I am completely proud of her as a dad and a fan…fly on Little Wing.


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