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Born in Tennessee but raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Martin gained notice as a back-up singer for such artists as Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Tom Petty and Kenny Loggins, touring with Nicks and Walsh. She became a protegee of Doug Morris, then the head of Atlantic Records, who had heard her backing up Nicks on the Rock a Little album and was impressed enough to ask for a demo. She recorded the Stevie Nicks song "Sorcerer" (on which Nicks features on backing vocals) for the Jim Steinman soundtrack of the 1984 film Streets of Fire. Morris signed Martin to a two album contract and connected her with Phil Collins for "Separate Lives," part of the soundtrack for the 1985 film White Nights. The song was a number one hit in the U.S. and a Top 5 hit in the United Kingdom. Her self-titled debut album was released in January 1986, reaching number 72 on the Billboard 200, with the single "Night Moves" reaching number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two other singles were also released from the album, "Body and the Beat" and "Move Closer," but neither made the charts.
Her second album, This is Serious, was released in 1988, its lead single "Possessive Love" written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard. A second single, "Love Takes No Prisoners," was released as well, with the haunting ballad "Quiet Desperation" as the B-side. The same year, Martin also recorded a duet with David Foster, "And When She Danced," which was used as the "love theme" for the film Stealing Home.
However, neither the singles nor the album was successful, and Atlantic eventually released Martin from her contract, although she continued her career as a back-up vocalist into the 1990s. She also recorded a country album, "Through His Eyes," for Atlantic in 1994, which was never officially released but can now be listened to on Martin's official Web site. Martin currently works as a realtor in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, music producer and engineer, Greg Droman.
On September 14, 2012, Martin released a new album, Trust, Love, Pray.
- Marilyn Martin - 1986
- This Is Serious - 1988
- Through His Eyes - 1994 [pulled, not released]
- Trust, Love, Pray - 2012
- Separate Lives/I Don't Wanna Know (P. Collins) [duet with Phil Collins] - 1985
- Night Moves/Wildest Dreams - 1986
- Body and the Beat/The Dream is Always the Same - 1986
- Move Closer/The Dream is Always the Same - 1986
- Possessive Love/Homeless - 1988
- Love Takes No Prisoners/Quiet Desperation - 1988
- And When She Danced/And When She Danced [duet with David Foster] - 1988
- No Regrets/What's The Use (Charles Dumont) [duet with Charles Dumont] - 1992
- Through His Eyes - 1994