Kristi Martel - Ravengirl

by Mary Ann Rossoni
for GET Magazine, October 2006

Imagine a three-year-old atop a restaurant's crumb-laden restaurant four-top table, belting out her favorite tunes with a saltshaker-air-microphone in hand. Envision her family encouraging her, amidst the applause of restaurant patrons-turned fans. That is how pianist Kristi Martel's career began. She has since gone on to receive an ASCAP grant for young composers and has earned degrees in songwriting, performance, arrangement, electronic music, and sound recording from both Bard College Conservatory of Music and Mills College.

Kristi is a true avant-soul, piano diva. Her voice is sweet and gutsy; her lyrics, spiritually enriching.

Her label, Sealed Lip Records, offers a wide assortment of self-produced releases. Her most recent CD, Ravengirl, is a gem -- a musical catharsis. Most of the songs were written after an eleven-month writer's block following the death of former life partner and music collaborator, Littlebird. "Littlebird['s Flight]," the first song she wrote when that dry spell ended, was inspired by correspondence she received from unknown mediums "compelled to deliver messages" to her from Littlebird: "I thought I was high; I could fly..." The title cut, "Ravengirl," is the invincible persona she adopted to guide her through the pain and loss; "Dear Emily" is about the fear and uncertainty she felt within the 52 hours that passed after Littlebird's disappearance. "Harder than Dying" is a response to family concerned about Kristi's own health. She asserts that she would get past the grief -- to be present in herself both physically and spiritually. "Living is harder than dying, and [the] truth is harder than lying, my roots dig deeper than your flying [pulled me] to the sky."

But not all of Ravengirl is about Littlebird. The CD opens with "Oya!", a powerful invocation naming the album as an offering; "Autumn Nightwork" is a soft tale of longing; and "Photophobia" earned Kristi a semi-finalist position in the Solarfest songwriter competition. The closing tune will be familiar to true Martel fans -- a new recording of "Give." This version was arranged [for] and performed by WomanSpiritRising.

So join Kristi and her 8-piece band on October 22 at The Hi Hat, 3 Davol Sq., Prov. from 6-11 pm and hear for yourself why her four-octave range vocals earned her this year's "Best Alt-Rock Female Vocalist" in the Motif Magazine music polls. Visit

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