This September, Google honored what would have been Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday with a special, musical Doodle. That same month, however, a singer came into the public eye who made us all believe that Mercury was alive and well — in the form of a 34-year-old musician from Tennessee.
Marc Martel earned the attention of the web — and an O Music Award write-in nomination for “Best Fan Cover” — when he submitted his audition tape for “The Queen Extravaganza,” a live touring band honoring Queen to be organized by the band’s drummer Roger Taylor.
We caught up with Martel, who plays in the band Downhere, to find out a little more about the man behind the epic voice.
How long have you been on YouTube?
What kind of training do you have?
I’ve had nine years of piano lessons, self-taught guitar, and self-taught singing. Also, playing in a band for 11 years is pretty good training.
When did you find out that you sound exactly like Freddie Mercury?
For approximately the last six or seven years people have consistently pulled me aside after concerts to tell me I remind them of Freddie.
What did you think of the response you got after posting the initial video?
The video went viral in under 24 hours after it was uploaded. My response was, ‘Oh, no. What does this even mean?!’ I didn’t sleep that night.
Have you met Queen yet?
Not at this point but hope to sometime in the future.
Were you a fan initially?
Yep. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live showed me the light.
Why do you think you deserve the O Music Award?
To say I’m blown away that more than 4 million people have seen my Queen audition is an understatement and it would be such an honor to win the O Music Award, especially since it’s based on fan votes. And this is a good opportunity for me to say thank you to all the fans that did write-in ballots for me to even get this nomination. I was thrilled when I found out and looking forward to hearing the winners announced on Halloween night.
Who else can you sing exactly like?
Jeff Buckley, John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, George Michael, Keith Green, Jordan Knight, Tom Chaplin, Aaron Neville.
What has YouTube done for your career?
I love performing, so it has opened up doors for me that have resulted in more work and career possibilities. It’s a great way to connect with fans and the general public.