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Francisco Martin on Growing Through Music


One of American Idol's favorites, Francisco Martin, has used this year to find his own voice and sound, while advocating for mental health.
Photo Courtesy of Francisco Martin

We all agree that 2020 has been, well, less than desirable. But with 2021 right around the corner, San Francisco based musician Francisco Martin reflected on his American Idol Journey and shared with us some of the growth he underwent along the way.

Appearing on season 18 of American Idol, Francisco’s audition was a little sweaty, but non the less memorable. I mean, it’s hard to forget that hug from Lionel Richie, or Luke Bryan’s medical evaluation, checking Francisco’s pulse.

“I look back on that Idol audition and I can just see the nervousness and anxiety pouring out of me,” Francisco said.

Even though Francisco came off a bit nervous, his voice and instrumentals rang out with confidence. Every week the young artist would come back and light up the stage with his voice. He performed songs from some of our favorite artists, like Maggie Rogers, James Bay, and the iconic Harry Styles. Even when he was covering well-known artists for the competition, fans connected to Francisco’s unique sound.

“As I went through that journey, I found myself on this path where I was able to start figuring out who I am and who I want to be. I was meeting other creatives who were inspiring me more than any of them will ever know. I started taking my songwriting seriously and honing the art of production,” he said about his time on Idol.

As Francisco began to take on his place as one of the front runners to win the show, he hit a bump in the road. With 2020 being, well 2020, the emergence of COVID-19 led to the show switching to a remote course of action. Still, he adjusted.

“I think the biggest thing I learned off of Idol was to be flexible. One minute we're in LA preparing for these incredible big-stage productions with full crowds and the next thing you know, we're all being sent home to film on our own, in the midst of an unprecedented, global pandemic,” he said.

Francisco ended up placing fifth in the competition, an incredible feat for this talented 19-year-old.

“Truly, the best thing that show can give you is a fanbase, which is what I am most grateful for. It gave me exposure to people who believed in me, which resulted in me getting a record deal, so now I'm able to create and release music on a level I hadn't dreamt was possible a year prior.”

Currently Francisco is doing just that: releasing music. He just released an up-beat cover of Maggie Rogers hit single, “Alaska,” and more recently his first single. Francisco’s “Swollen” is a beautiful, highly emotional song that, in simplest terms, makes you feel.

“I am a serious over-thinker and I'm a bit sensitive which completely shapes my music.”

You can just hear the emotion in Francisco’s voice. The artist truly wants to be an advocate for those who are going through hard times or fighting anxiety because he knows how that feels.

“I think a lot of people suffer from mental health issues. And if sharing my journey and my struggles helps someone, in any way, even if it's just to let them know they're not the only ones, then I feel compelled to do so,” he said.

With a new year upon us, the possibilities are endless for the Californian artist. Coming off a great run on Idol and releasing a single that’s already reached more than 300,000 streams on Spotify, it’s clear that he’s just getting started. It’s been a wild ride for Francisco, and I know we will hear more from this exciting new artist. But for now, Francisco left us with a bit of inspiration about what it means to be young.

“This is all you.”


This story appears on the December 20 issue of Mud, "Lisztomania." You can purchase a digital and print copy here.


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