A Conversation With Latin Grammy-Winning AUS Adjunct Faculty Barrett Martin
Barrett Martin’s New Latin Grammy
Even before winning a Latin Grammy this November, 2017 has been a busy year for AUS BA in Liberal Studies adjunct faculty Barrett Martin. His book The Singing Earth was published this year. His solo group The Barrett Martin Band is about to release a new album. He’s played live shows across the Pacific Coast (including the 25th anniversary celebration of AUS’s Belltown neighbor The Crocodile). A 2-hour concert of his was recently aired on The Seattle Channel’s Art Zone (streaming online for free). He was even filmed drumming for the Seattle episode of Anthony Bourdain’s current television show Parts Unknown, which aired in November 2017.
For his “Best Portuguese Language Rock or Alternative Album” Latin Grammy win, Martin played drums and percussion on Nando Reis’s album “Jardim-Pomar,” which Martin also co-produced and mixed alongside his frequent collaborator, Nirvana and Soundgarden producer Jack Endino.
Martin’s influence in the musical world is eclectic and wide-ranging. The Seattle Times recently called Martin “central to the creation of grunge in the 90s.” He is well-known for his work with several prominent Seattle bands including his aforementioned The Barrett Martin Group, as well as Walking Papers, Mad Season, Screaming Trees, Tuatara, Skin Yard, and the Levee Walkers. He has also recorded with R.E.M., Queens of the Stone Age, and many other bands. Local Seattle alternative newspaper The Stranger adds, “Barrett Martin is one of those treasured musicians—like Mickey Hart and Ginger Baker—who possess an omnivorous appetite for non-Western styles, in addition to rock, blues, folk, and jazz.”
A Conversation With Barrett Martin
To help the Antioch community get to know Martin as a teacher, in anticipation of his upcoming BA in Liberal Studies course, ENVC-4800, The Singing Earth: Music, Culture, and Environment, Martin took some time to speak about his relationship with Antioch, his teaching philosophy, and what students can look forward to in his class.
Martin, who holds a master’s degree in ethnology/linguistics/ethnomusicology from the University of New Mexico, has taught at many universities as a guest lecturer and when presenting academic papers. However, Antioch University Seattle is the first university to get to offer full classes taught by Martin.
When asked why he chose Antioch for this, he explained, “They picked me! I was contacted by the liberal arts department to come teach a class… They contacted me in 2010. But I liked Antioch because it was a very prestigious liberal arts school. The original one goes back to the 1850s. I just thought it was a good place for the way that I teach, which is about awakening the mind, and becoming a fierce advocate for humanity and the planet. And I feel like the Antioch philosophy and curriculum is really aligned with that.”
He added, “So for someone like me… a musician and producer and composer who’s active in the world, working with people, and making records, and playing shows, and deeply connected to indigenous people, and really world music in general, being aligned with an institution like Antioch is really conducive to that work… I can bring that work, and that experience into the classroom when I teach.”
When asked what students can expect when taking his class, he said, “Our class is going to be specifically about music, the environment, ecology, [and] the expression of culture through music. It’s a global survey, so we go around the world and look at certain different locations around the world in one quarter. At the end of the quarter, the students will have a pretty good idea of what world music is, how connected it is to the natural environment, and the cultures that come from those places [studied in the class].”
He added, “It’s the kind of class that applies to any of the liberal studies majors, because it’s about humanity, it’s about the environment, it’s about spiritual expression, it’s about ecology, it’s about art and expression. I mean it really, as an elective class, it falls into a lot of categories.”
When commenting on the value of the class as a source of cultural enrichment, Martin added, “Yes. I think that’s important! I mean, sometimes you need to take classes that are culturally enriching.”
Giving specific examples of the cultural enrichment in the class, Martin described teaching in a multimodality way in the classroom, to work with different student learning styles, by playing recorded music, showing videos, and assigning readings, including his own book The Singing Earth, which the class was named after.
When asked about his teaching philosophy, he added “I want to enlighten the minds of students, and put a fire in their heart to go out and make a difference in the world for the better. Whatever their skill is, whatever their talent is, whatever they feel passionate about, that’s their way of working in the world. All I want to do is just ignite that, and enlighten it a little bit more, so that whatever they decide to do, I’ve contributed a little bit to that fire.”
He also referred to his faculty profile teaching statement, “To liberate the mind and illuminate the student, so that they too have the courage to think and act with fierce, discriminating wisdom.” When it was read back to him, he said “That’s exactly it.”