Martika: An Impatient StarHILLEL ITALIE , Associated Press
Jun. 2, 1989 12:17 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ Before Martika could even speak, she was thinking about singing and dancing.
''I feel like I've done it before, probably in a previous life'' explained the 20-year-old singer and actress, who has released her self-titled debut album. ''I think when I came out of my mother's womb I was ready to be a performer. Most people don't have that. I can never explain why. God only knows.''
Born Marta Marrero, she began dance classes at 4 and was soon giving recitals at school. Martika, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, also paid close attention to the new phenonema of music videos on television.
''Yeah, it was big,'' she recalled. ''I grew up on MTV. When I was 14, MTV was taking off. That's when I got into pop. Culture Club, Duran Duran and Madonna came out.''
Impatient to break into show business, Martika was calling agents at age 11; she had no interest in pursuing a conventional career.
''I have friends who say, 'I hate my job. I wish I could do something else.' I say, 'Go do it.' I really believe you should follow your heart even if you have to go through rough times.
''I know I wanted it badly enough, I would have starved for it. Better that than making a lot of money in an office and being unhappy for the rest of my life.''
Rock singer Madonna would prove to be a major influence on the aspiring star, who admired her determination to succeed.
''Madonna's been really inspirational for me because she took herself from nothing to the hugest female pop star alive. She introduced the whole dance music scene. She paved the way for the rest of us. People still don't take her seriously, but she's still making records.''
Martika also chose to professionally use just one name, but denied getting the idea from Madonna. Afterall, Cher had done it before.
''Even when I was younger, I thought it would be cool to have one name, to have a unique name like Martika,'' the singer said. ''I started using it when I was 16. I was acting, and my agent said I should save having one name for my recording career. Casting directors would complain to the agencies that I didn't have a last name.''
Martika landed a minor role in the 1982 film version of ''Annie.'' She went on to appear on several television shows, including ''Silver Spoons,'' ''Diff'rent Strokes,'' ''Hardcastle & McCormick'' and the children's variety series, ''Kids Incorporated.''
When she turned 18, she set her sights on the music industry, spending a year preparing songs with producer-writer Michael Jay (Miami Sound Machine, Stephanie Mills). She needed just two months to record the album, a collection of dance tracks and ballads.
The first single, ''More Than You Know,'' reached the Top 20, but Martika's favorite song on the album is the anti-drug ''Toy Soldiers,'' which she wrote herself.
''I was a little hesitant because I had only written two songs before and they were light songs. I came up to Michael and said I wanted to write about drugs. It was the first time I got the nerve to write about something that was scary for me to talk about, so I did,'' she said.
Martika wrote the song about a friend who had been addicted to cocaine.
''He can't listen to it,'' she said. ''It gives him the chills. He says it affects him too much. He knows it's about him. He loves it. he thinks it's a beautiful song, but when he listens to my record, he skips over that.''
Martika also does a dance version of Carole King's ''I Feel the Earth Move.'' The young singer was just 3 when King's classic ''Tapestry'' album was released and knew little about her work.
''I listened to the melody once and put it away because I didn't want to be influenced by her performance. I wanted to do it my way,'' she said. ''Doing a remnake, you get the opportunity to revive something for the older generation but you can also introduce a great old song to kids who never knew it existed.''
Fans should be warned that Martika does not expect to stay in music very long. Although she considers singing her first great love, Martika would eventually like to concentrate on movies.
''I think an actor can grow old a bit more gracefully,'' she explained. ''I see myself doing pop music while I have the energy and then getting married and doing one film every year or two. There are so many parts of me outside of Martika the singer. There's a real person in here somewhere.''