Never underestimate the importance of an album’s title. Coming up with a good one can often be the most grueling part of the entire process. Sure, an artist can get away with the occasional self-titled project, but more often than not you need a catchy moniker that sticks in a listener’s brain—but not something so wild that it’s the only thing they’ll remember (we’re looking at you, “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”).
Dorothy Martin, frontwoman of hard rock band Dorothy, may not have gone totally left field 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 from the Holy Ghost’ popped into my head and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the album title,’” Martin says. “I wrote it down and I didn’t know what it meant, it just sounded really cool. Then I had a song I’d always wanted to include on the album, but it wasn’t finished and the chorus was missing something. I put ‘We are gifts from the Holy Ghost’ into 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 her title and ran with it. The title fell perfectly into place, just like so many other parts of the project. There was something in the air while “Gifts From The Holy Ghost” was coming together, almost as if Martin was being watched over by the music gods.
“There were no accidents,” she says. “I was led from one person to the next. They say, ‘More will be revealed, trust the journey,’ and I was like, ‘I fully trust you, let’s go.’ These songs would just come and it was like all of the puzzle pieces would just fall into place. Then at the last second, when we needed to finish the album, Scott Stevens brought me the song ‘Rest in Peace’ and when I heard the song, I had goosebumps. It was just too perfect and it all came together through faith.”
While Martin penned a majority of the songs on the album, she had a strong collaborator on her side—faith. Prior to writing this album, Martin was on tour when she found herself asking some big questions, such as “Why am I here?” or “Is there a God?” Then, in the midst of traveling from city to city, Martin felt the presence of a higher power and was never the same again.
“Our guitar tech was using heroin but I didn’t know,” Martin says. “We had just played a show in Philadelphia and he must have gotten some drugs. He shot up in his bunk, overdosed and died. They woke me up, we pulled off the highway and called 911. My manager was trying to do CPR on him, but he’d been gone for a long time. When I saw him, I knew he was dead and his spirit had left. But the weird, strange, miraculous thing about it was I was never scared.
“I felt this peaceful presence around all of us and this voice said to me, ‘Pray,’” she continues. “I grabbed my sound guy and my manager and was like, ‘Guys, we’ve got to pray.’ That’s when the paramedics came on the bus, started examining him, and I’m like, ‘God, if you’re out there please send him back and give him one more chance.’ Then, when I opened my eyes, they’d revived him.”
Martin was profoundly changed after experiencing a real-life resurrection. Not only did her outlook on touring change, but her entire mindset towards music was permanently altered. It greatly shaped the tone of “Gifts From The Holy Ghost” and, more than likely, every subsequent project she’ll release going forward. “My intention was to create inspiring and uplifting rock and roll music,” Martin says. “I wanted the songs to be good, but for there to also be substance and a hopeful message behind the lyrics. It’s about overcoming darkness and adversity. It gives you themes that grow on you and things that sink into your spirit. It’s definitely also about giving people hope and helping them to forget about their problems as they’re listening to the music.”
Each song on the album holds a special place in Martin’s heart. Her first track, “A Beautiful Life,” was written alongside Five Finger Death Punch’s Jason Hook and includes one of her favorite lyrics in the entire project—“Don’t let the demons get you down.” “Close To Me Always,” the clear ballad of the project, was written by Audra Mae about losing a parent and is arguably the most vulnerable song on the album. There’s also “Rest In Peace,” the album’s breakup single and “Black Sheep,” an ode to the fans of rock and roll. 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 art. Then, as she began releasing her own music, she started paying tribute to her own works. “Sometimes, it’s just a small lyric,” Martin says. “‘Wildfires’ was a song that never made it on the album, but I love that song and the word fit perfectly on my knuckles. 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 just happened and they revealed themselves.”
Taking a look at Martin’s ink you’ll be able to trace her artistic journey through her tattoo collection. “Whiskey Fever” was one of the tracks off of Martin’s first album with Dorothy, “ROCKISDEAD.” This album catapulted her into the spotlight and was largely favored as one of the top rock albums of the year. “ROCKISDEAD” 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’s evolved.
“‘Gifts From The Holy Ghost’ 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 some blues, classic rock, Motown… there’s a little folk and a bit of country influence in my voice and the way I write. I wanted to make a real rock and roll album with strong guitar players, production and songwriting. I’ve had experiences in the past where people tell 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 has been a big deal.”
At this moment in time, Martin is immersed in “Ghosts From The Holy Ghost” and has embarked on a national tour to promote the album, as well as a select few festival dates. Even with all that going on she’s already planning her next album. Following her success working with Stevens on “Rest In Peace” and “Black Sheep,” Martin will be collaborating with him—as well as songwriters Marti Frederiksen, Zac Maloy and Blair Daly—on her fourth studio album. “After this tour, I’m probably going to go on a little road trip, enjoy cooking from home and decompress, then I want to start writing the next album in Nashville with the Four Horsemen,” Martin says. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I know I’m in good hands because they are so talented. I think changing up the scenery and going to Nashville is going to be a good 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 tattoo collection. Rock and roll is where she feels at home and in the words of another iconic Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.”