70 Year Old NYC Subway Singer John The Martyr Signs With Label
From the Harlem Renaissance in the twenties to the heyday of the Apollo Theater during the sixties, the legacy of Harlem casts an overpowering influence across music and culture. John The Martyr frontman Bill Hudson knows a thing or two about that legacy. He got to witness it flourish firsthand, and he's upholding it now...
"When I was ten-years-old, my mother called the Apollo my second home," he smiles. "I'd be there every Wednesday for 'Amateur Night.' My mom wanted me home at a certain time or I'd be in trouble. I'd rather get in trouble, because I wasn't leaving. I can recall seeing Sly & the Family Stone and all of the greats back then. My idol James Brown even sweat on me!"
Anointed by "The hardest working man in show business," Bill spent his formative years hosting family talent shows alongside his siblings at home. Growing up, he moved on to professional talent shows throughout town before beginning military service during The Vietnam War.
Stationed in Guam, he would sing at airmans clubs and officers clubs in addition to regularly winning contests on base. Returning home, Bill launched the band Spice and frequently brought down the house at Baby Grand, Top Club, and The Apollo in addition to numerous other famous Big Apple hotspots.
New York radio icon Jeff Foxx tapped Bill to front the 107.5 Wake Up Live Band. Throughout the years, he opened up for everyone from Queen Latifah and Keith Sweat to Teddy Riley and many more in addition to often headlining LT's Place-owned by the legendary Lawrence Taylor-in New Jersey.
2010 saw him join the independent doo-wop sensation Spank. He toured with the group for seven years performing on the Norwegian and Princess Cruise Lines around the globe as well as soundtracking events across the city such as New York Fashion Week and the New York City Marathon. In 2017, he linked up with John The Martyr after band founder Kyle Ridley caught a Spank performance in the subway.
"It's crazy man," he admits. "Back in the day, we would jump the turnstiles in the subway, go down to the end of the platform and start singing. It didn't cost anything, and we'd get that echo effect. It's a natural reverb that's perfect for doo-wopping. I never thought I'd end up in such a great group that way."
Now, he's keeping his city's history alive on the group's self-titled debut.