Charlotte Martin recently finished driving across the country. She also managed to squeeze in a little singing along the way, since the drive was for a spring concert tour. Wait. Let's start over, because chances are you haven't actually heard of Charlotte Martin...Yet.

Here's the quick bio-blurb on Ms. Martin. She is 27, originally from Charleston, IL by way of Los Angeles, because she followed a former boyfriend out there. So far, so normal. But, she is also a former Miss Teen Illinois and People Magazine voted her one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People" this past April. She is also a classically trained opera singer who happens to think of herself as goth and cites Joy Division and the Cure as major influences. And she thinks that Britney Spears can make some good music.

"I really like the bass part in 'In the Zone,'" she says. "It rocks."

Charlotte's singing style is akin to Tori Amos on steroids, with a fuller voice and lyrics that aren't as esoteric. Critics have lobbed names like Kate Bush, Amy Lee, Stevie Nicks and Norah Jones in reference to her singing and songwriting. Take another look at that group. Which one doesn't belong?

"If you stick me in an electric socket, wet; that's the kind of emotions I try to put into my music," she says. "I'm a little more hormonal than Norah Jones."

On the comparisons: "I think [comparisons] are a complement; really awesome," she explains. "I'm different and it doesn't bother me. I think [they] are necessary; they give people something to ground [the sound] in."

Filter Magazine, Rolling Stone.com, Details and Billboard Magazine all rave about her chops, her intense, personal lyrics and her skills with a piano. And the musicians are catching on as well. Having already toured with the likes of Howie Day and the Psychedelic Furs, and having just finished up a club tour this past spring, Liz Phair personally picked her to be a part of this summer's "Chicks with Attitude" tour. Not bad for someone who spent a year in Los Angeles holed up in an apartment writing sad, haunting melodies after being dumped by the boy who brought her there.

"Is life beautiful?" she asks. "No, it sucks. But we have to respond to it in our own way."

Charlotte Martin's album, "On Your Shore" hits stores August 10th. The "Chicks with Attitude" Tour comes to the Electric Factory on Sept. 2.


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