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|Born||Martha Carmen Josephine Hernandéz Rosario de Veléz
New York City
|Occupation||Television actress, singer|
Martha Carmen Josephine Hernandéz Rosario de Veléz (born August 25, 1945 in New York City) is an American singer and actress of Puerto Rican descent.
Veléz started singing at the age of five years and won an opera scholarship at the age of 12 years, as a mezzo-soprano. She studied for three years, then went to the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. She holds a master's degree from Antioch University in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Cultural Mythology and Depth Psychology. She is a founding Fellow of the Imaginal Institute of Ojai, California. As a playwright, she wrote the award-winning[clarification needed] play Power of the Powerless. Velez continues to use her voice as a singer for good will and social change.
She began her recording career with the folk singing group The Gaslight Singers on Mercury Records. She was the female singer with Earl Mann, Al Alcabes and Jeff Hyman.
Veléz released her debut blues-rock album Fiends And Angels on the Sire/Blue Horizon Records label in 1969; backing musicians included Eric Clapton, Stan Webb (Chicken Shack), and Paul Kossoff (Free) on guitar, Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac) on keyboards, Jack Bruce on bass and Brian Auger on organ. The album was produced by Mike Vernon. 1972 saw the release of her second album, Hypnotized, which is her only album not currently available on CD. In 1974, she released Matinee Weepers, a collection of adult-contemporary pop. In May 1975, she traveled to Jamaica for three weeks to record with reggae artist Bob Marley. She is the only American artist for whom Marley functioned as musical producer - the results were Escape From Babylon. Producer Craig Leon also greatly contributed to this association. He asked Marley about doing the album with her; Marley listened to her composition, "Living Outside the Law" from her 1972 album, Hypnotized, and felt a philosophical kinship. He also was impressed by her extraordinary voice. Marley's very positive response took them into the studio with his earlier producer Lee "Scratch" Perry to work on producing Escape From Babylon, released in 1976. The album also featured four Marley covers (Bend Down Low, Happiness, There You Are, Get Up, Stand Up) and a Veléz-Marley composing collaboration Disco Night. The songwriting credits were given to Rita Marley because of Marley's dispute with his publishers at the time.
After Escape From Babylon Veléz only released one more album, American Heartbeat (1977). A compilation, Angels Of The Future Past was released in 1989, which did not include any songs from Hypnotised due to cross-licensing issues, or from American Heartbeat because the masters were missing at the time. She then resumed her career as an actress which began as the lead in Hair on Broadway. She moved on to acting in movies and TV series. She was a series regular in the Norman Lear sitcom AKA Pablo in 1984 and played a recurring role in Falcon Crest (1986). In 1997 she acted in One Eight Seven along with Samuel L. Jackson. She also worked in films with Julianne Moore (Safe), Halle Berry and Patrick Swayze (Father Hood), Dennis Hopper (Nails), and played a lead role in the (Sundance) winner Star Maps directed by Miguel Arteta produced by Mathew Greenfield.
Veléz is the former wife of trumpet player Keith Johnson. Her son is performance artist, writer-poet, and singer Taj Johnson. Taj appeared as series regular for two years on Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Her brother is the percussionist Gerardo Velez, who has worked with Spyro Gyra, Patti LaBelle, Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison.
- The Gaslight Singers (1963)
- Turning It On (1964)
- Fiends And Angels (1969)
- Hypnotized (1972)
- Matinée Weepers (1973)
- Escape From Babylon (1976)
- American Heartbeat (1977)
- Angels Of The Future Past (1989)
- AKA Pablo (1984) (Norman Lear TV series)
- Shattered If Your Kid's On Drugs (1986)
- Falcon Crest (1989) (TV series)
- L.A. Law (1989)
- Tour of Duty (1990) (TV series)
- Side Out (1990)
- Live! From Death Row (1992)
- Nails (1992) (television film)
- Father Hood (1993)
- Safe (1995)
- Star Maps (1997)
- One Eight Seven (1997)
- Mata Hari (1965)(Washington, D.C. National Theater)
- I'm Solomon (1966)
- Hair (1967)(Broadway - Biltmore Theater)
- Comedy of Errors - Shakespeare (Los Angeles)
- Power of the Powerless (1994) (Los Angeles, CA)