Compton native Fred Martin grew up keenly aware of the escalating violence and drugs in his community. However, Martin sought another path, and at a young age became passionate about music, devouring books on composition and theory and becoming a church organist.
After graduating from high school, Martin taught at Lynwood High, where he worked with Erica and Trecina Atkins, who would later become the gospel duo Mary Mary. Martin also taught at Hamilton High School, where he formed the Hamilton Gospel Choir and created their curriculum. The Hamilton Gospel Choir’s alumni include some of the top artists, producers, and writers in the industry, such as Candace Nelson, Gil Smith, and Walter Millsap, and the Hamilton Gospel Choir was featured on the soundtrack of Under Seige 2. Martin was later hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District for his musical expertise, and went on to teach music at Celeste Scott Christian School, Inglewood High School, Harvard Westlake High School, Los Angeles Jordan High School, Emerson Middle School, Civic Center Secondary School, Strawberry Mansion High School, Washington High School, and Dominguez High School, always believing that music – and gospel in particular – could be a key to rescuing inner city kids from the perils that surrounded them.
In 2002, Martin founded the Urban Entertainment Institute (UEI), a nonprofit designed to teach students music, dance, and multiple aspects of the music business. UEI partnered with Cisco Technology, the largest tech company in the world, to scale its program and integrate the arts with telecommunications. In 2011, the two companies put on the first ever multi-point concert on a virtual stage.
Martin selected his most gifted protégés to form The Levite Camp, and together, Fred Martin and the Levite Camp released their debut album “Some Bridges” with Concord Music Group. Fred co-produced this project with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jackson Browne. The Levite Camp also performed on Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company with Gladys Knight, George Benson, and Al Jarreau, and Paul McCartney’s Bring It On Home to Me, Kelly Clarkson’s I Had a Dream. The Levite Camp was the voice of PacifiCare’s national commercial for four years, and featured on the soundtracks of Man of the House, Fakin Da Funk and American Epic.
Fred Martin and the Levite Camp are at their best when performing live! They have appeared on Jay Leno with Sawyer Brown and Robert Randolph, Dr. Phil, The Ellen Show with Natasha Bedingfield, Sharon Osbourne, Dancing With The Stars, and Madd TV. They also took part in MusiCares’ tribute to Bruce Springsteen with Sting, Zac Brown Band, and Mavis Staple, MusiCares’ tribute to Brian Wilson with Jamie Cullum. Finally, they worked with the late Phil Ramone on the Hollywood Bowl’s Tribute to Ray Charles with Martina McBride, BabyFace, Pattie Austin, and BeBe Winans, Beck’s 277-piece orchestral cover of David Bowie’s Sound and Vision, and U2’s A Song for Someone.
Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Faith Evans, Carlos Santana, The Neville Brothers, Bill Weir and Beck call upon Fred Martin and the Urban Entertainment Institute.
Although UEI has been blessed with amazing opportunities to work with some of the most talented individuals in the entertainment industry, changing the lives of America’s youth remains Fred Martin’s truest passion. It is through the performing arts that Fred has been able to nurture and develop students from all different backgrounds, and show them just how much their lives matter to our world. He continues to turn visions into realities, and promote the idea of caring past good intentions.