Marty Elkins was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a child she listened mostly to the soul stations in New York, and the late night R&B shows like Jocko’s Rocket Ship. She left there for college in Boston, and while in college was given a copy of Ella Fitzgerald and Ellis Larkins. She was also exposed to Charlie Parker, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, and Louis Jordan, but the life changing day was when she found a copy of Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin” in a local Woolworth bin in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Literally holing up in her room with this recording, and a Bessie Smith record she acquired, she became devoted to jazz and began listening to it exclusively. She had the good fortune to meet musicians in that area who played jazz such as Herb Pomeroy, Ray Santisi, Jimmy Mosher, and Dave McKenna among others. Dave McKenna had a steady gig at the Copley Plaza, and he encouraged her to sing with him there. She landed a gig singing with a vocal trio in Bo Winiker’s band, floating around the Boston harbor singing Andrew Sisters songs.
Marty keeps you believing... Her voice has a glowing roundness, she hit notes without strain and she swings...
Zan Stewart, Downbeat Magazine (6/01)
Finding not many other opportunities to sing up there, she moved to New York in the early eighties. Meeting more musicians in the few remaining clubs from the Fifty-Second street era - Jimmy Ryan’s and Eddie Condon’s - she began singing with Max Kaminsky’s band to enable Max to get off the bandstand and sell his book. The Runyonesque club owner began paying her to do so, and she began doing some gigs with Spanky Davis’ “Jimmy Ryan All Stars” at the Cat Club. She then spent some years in “the trenches” playing various bars and restaurants in the New York area. Fortunately, she always had the pleasure of singing with excellent musicians. She had a steady gig at Cousin’s in Brooklyn with Tardo Hammer and Lee Hudson, and really began to develop her style with them. There was also a steady gig at the Savoy Lounge in midtown Manhattan, which was with a young organ trio - Adam Scone, Coleman Mellett and Craig Wuepper. She was in a vocal group, also, “The Sweethots”, and with them worked with the Stan Rubin Band and the Cab Calloway Orchestra, under the direction of Christopher Calloway Brooks. That trio did a radio show with Spanky Davis, Clarence Hutchenrider (the clarinetist featured on the 1930’s hit record “Smoke Rings” by the Casa Loma Orchestra) and Vince Giordano, “The Sweethots”also often played at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City.
Lately she has been free-lancing in New York City and the surrounding areas, appearing at the Falcon Art Center in Marlboro, NY with “The Saints of Swing”, Jazz Vespers at the First Presbyterian Church of Phillipstown, in Cold Spring, NY and various places around the city such as Smalls, Zeb’s Sound and Light, and various small restaurants and private events with the Bob Wylde Trio. She was invited to be part of the Jazz, Blues and Gospel Festival at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2103 and did a tour of Germany with the Martin Sasse Trio after the release of her first CD.
The wonderful indie label, Nagel-Heyer records have been releasing her CDs, having released “Fuse Blues”, the critically acclaimed debut and “In Another Life” - a duo effort with Dave McKenna. The next one will be “Walkin’ By the River”, which will be out in the Spring of 2016 on that label as well, featuring Jon-Erik Kellso and Howard Alden.
“Marty Elkins runs her own voodoo down. It will remind you of no one else out there. Her voice is always doing those things a jazz singer will do. Marty Elkins is a jazz singer...” Stanley Crouch, liner notes on Fuse Blues (Nagel-Heyer Records)