Musicians like James Brown carried out the funk era, while legendary bands like Parliament, the Ohio Players and Earth, Wind, & Fire kept funk's fire burning brightly. Today, though, most people aren't bumping their stereos with music from the funk era. Still, there is no lack of appreciation for the genre. To ensure the love of funk doesn't die, D'MAR combines the best yesterday's funk with today's R&B.
D'MAR, born Derrick Martin, began his education in music while in the 7th grade and continued as a freshman at Jackson State University. After performing for local greats such as Eddie Cotton, Dorothy Moore and Patrice Moncell, D'MAR's lucky break came in 1995 when he got the chance to audition for Little Richard—he got the job. Though he could play every instrument except guitar, the drums were D'MAR's forte. While a part of Little Richard's band, he wasn't just playing. He was performing and creating a one-of-a-kind experience for the audience.
"It's been an immense education," he says. "The way I think, and the way I view the world now is all as a result of being able to travel and see. I usually go to Europe twice a year, and television-wise I've probably been on every major talk show you could think of within maybe the last seven years."
D'MAR adds that having the chance to perform for shows such as the Grammys and the American Music Awards helped him to really get a grasp of the type of musician he was capable of being. After traveling around the world, D'MAR came home to Jackson as a new musical hot commodity for many local up-and-coming acts. Songwriting and producing became his day job, he says.
"I produced for the Wild Life Society and Children of the Cornbread, and I've actually produced a couple of songs for Little Richard as well," he adds.
D'MAR also helped to co-write and produce for local singing group sensation Compozitionz, whose single "Come Over" had heavy radio rotation this year.
Later, D'MAR put together his own act: a 10-piece performance band called D'MAR and the Nu Funk Society.
He says: "That's the brainchild that has taken three years to actually come to fruition, but I started about two years ago when I released a single called 'One Check Away From Being Broke,' and I actually opened up for K-CI and JoJo at Freelon's Groove when they came."
Having had two singles released this year in both France and Amsterdam, D'MAR says that he received a lot of positive feedback. Several agents were pushing the idea for the new band, but he says difficulties arose.
"I was having problems finding the right musicians here that were really willing to rehearse and were really willing to put together the kind of show that I was trying to put together," he remembers.
Finally, D'MAR found other capable musicians with the same enthusiasm to deliver an outstanding performance.
Seeing D'MAR and the Nu Funk Society is a very live experience, to say the least. He is known for coming out into the audience during his shows and pulling onlookers onto the dance floor.
"I want people to come away from our show saying 'Man, that was an experience. We were entertained. We got funked to death. We danced, and we partied.' It's a chance to come in and let all your inhibitions go," he says.