Never underestimate the importance of an album title. Finding a good one can often be the most exhausting part of the whole process. Sure, an artist can get away with the occasional self-titled project, but more often than not you need a catchy nickname that sticks in the listener’s brain, but not something so wild the only thing he’ll remember (we’re looking at you, “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”).
Dorothy Martin, lead singer of hard rock band Dorothy, may not have gone totally left for her third studio album, but she certainly found her title in an unexpected place. “I was having coffee at my hotel in Brooklyn and the phrase ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit’ came to mind and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the title of the album'”, says Martin. “I wrote it and I didn’t know what it meant, it just sounded really cool. Then I had a song that I had always wanted to include on the album, but it wasn’t finished and “The chorus was missing something. I put ‘We are gifts of the Holy Spirit’ in the song and boom, we had the album title and the title track.”
Whether you want to call it fate, unconscious association, or divine intervention, Martin took his title and ran with it. The title fell into place perfectly, as did so many other parts of the project. There was something in the air as “Gifts From The Holy Ghost” came together, almost as if Martin was being watched by the gods of music.
“There were no accidents,” she said. “I was taken from person to person. They say, “More will be revealed, trust the journey”, and I was like, “I trust you completely, let’s go.” These songs were just coming in and it was like all the pieces of the puzzle were going to fall into place. Then at the last second, when the album had to be finished, Scott Stevens brought me the song ‘Rest in Peace’ and when I heard the song, I got goosebumps. It was just too perfect and it all came together through faith.
Although Martin wrote the majority of the songs on the album, she had a strong collaborator by her side: Faith. Before writing this album, Martin was on tour when she found herself asking big questions, such as “Why am I here?” or “Is there a God?” Then, as he traveled from town to town, Martin felt the presence of a higher power and was never the same again.
“Our guitar tech used heroin, but I didn’t know it,” Martin says. “We had just played a show in Philadelphia and he had to do drugs. He shot in his bunk, overdosed and died. They woke me up, we got off the freeway and called 911. My manager was trying to CPR him, but he was long gone. When I saw him, I knew he was dead and his spirit was gone. But what is bizarre, strange, miraculous, is that I was never afraid.
“I felt this peaceful presence around all of us and this voice said to me ‘Pray'”, she continues. “I grabbed my sound engineer and my manager and said to them, ‘Guys, we have to pray. That’s when the paramedics got on the bus, started examining it, and I was like, ‘God, if you’re out there, please send it back. and give it one more chance.” Then, when I opened my eyes, they resuscitated him.
Martin was profoundly changed after experiencing an actual resurrection. Not only has his outlook on touring changed, but his whole mindset towards music has been permanently altered. This greatly shaped the tone of “Gifts From The Holy Ghost” and, more than likely, any subsequent projects she will release in the future. “My intention was to create inspiring and uplifting rock and roll music,” says Martin. “I wanted the songs to be good, but also have substance and a message of hope behind the lyrics. It is about overcoming darkness and adversity. It gives you themes that grow within you and things that sink into your mind. It is certainly also about giving people hope and helping them forget their problems by listening to music.
Each song on the album holds a special place in Martin’s heart. His first track, “A Beautiful Life”, was written alongside Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch and includes one of his favorite lyrics on the entire project: “Don’t let the demons bring you down”. “Close To Me Always,” the project’s clean ballad, was written by Audra Mae about the loss of a parent and is arguably the album’s most vulnerable song. There’s also “Rest In Peace,” the album’s breakout single, and “Black Sheep,” an ode to rock and roll fans. But, when it came to getting a tattoo for the project, the inspiration simply had to come from the album’s title track.
A number of Martin’s tattoos have been inspired by music, starting with a small symbol from AFI’s “Sing the Sorrow” album cover. Then, as she began to release her own music, she began to pay homage to her own works. “Sometimes it’s just a little word,” Martin says. “’Wildfires’ was a song that never made it to the album, but I love that song and the word fits my articulation perfectly. I also have ‘Evil Love’ on my fingers, which is a lyric from my song ‘Whiskey Fever’. My newest tattoo is the words “Holy Ghost” on my ankles. They kind of happened and they revealed themselves.
Looking at Martin’s ink, you can trace his artistic journey through his collection of tattoos. “Whiskey Fever” was one of the tracks on Martin’s debut album with Dorothy, “ROCKISDEAD”. This album catapulted her into the limelight and was widely heralded as one of the best rock albums of the year. “ROCKISDEAD” has made Dorothy a force to be reckoned with. Six years have passed since the band released their first album and although Martin still loves many of her early songs, she has moved on.
“’Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ is more true to who I am,” Martin says. “I think hard rock is where I live, but there are so many different influences on the album. There’s blues, classic rock, Motown… there’s a bit of a folk influence and a little bit country in my voice and the way I wrote. I wanted to do a real rock and roll album with good guitarists, production and composition. I had experiences in the past where people told you what to do and instead I’m now like, ‘I’ll take that into consideration, but does that feel right to me?’ Trusting my intuition was a big deal.
Right now, Martin is deep into “Ghosts From The Holy Ghost” and has embarked on a nationwide tour to promote the album, along with a few festival dates. Even with everything going on, she is already preparing her next album. Following his success with Stevens on “Rest In Peace” and “Black Sheep”, Martin will collaborate with him, as well as songwriters Marti Frederiksen, Zac Maloy and Blair Daly, on his fourth studio album. “After this tour, I’m probably going to do a little road trip, enjoy the food back home and decompress, and then I want to start writing the next album in Nashville with the Four Horsemen,” Martin says. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know I’m in good hands because they’re so talented. I think a change of scenery and going to Nashville is going to be a great idea. I feel very hashtag blessed.
Dorothy Martin embodies rock and roll in her heart and soul. It influences everything she does, from her music to her personal style to her collection of tattoos. Rock and roll is where she calls home and, in the words of another iconic Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.”