Janice Martin is a jack-of-all-trades that manages to combine her vast talent in the musical world with an aerial display that is sure to keep an audience on the edge of their seats. While she grew up with a musical focus, after seeing a performance by the Cirque du Soleil, she was inspired to take her performing to a new level. USA Today has referred to her the “World’s Only Aerial Violinist.” Her aerial acts will impress anyone, but her wide range of artistry abilities allow her to connect with everyone from a classical music fan to a jazz-filled audience. Janice has put her act in front of millions of people when she performed for NBC’s America’s Got Talent and for the Discovery and History Channels. She currently performs at the Branson Belle in Branson, Missouri. The show consists of her various musical talents, including impressive violin work while on the silks. I highly recommend seeing the show if you are ever in the area, well worth the money. If all of this didn’t already have your attention, Janice is also a veteran of the United States Army. While her resume is already very impressive, from the awards she’s received to the venues she has starred in, Janice is focused on continuing to add new aspects to her acts. I was able to catch up with Janice recently and discuss how she got to the point where she is now and tried to break down this aerial work.
What was your childhood inspiration that got you started in becoming a musician?
I had two older sisters who both played piano and violin and I wanted to be able to play too!
Do you have any gymnastics in your background to help with your aerial skills?
Yes. I started gymnastics when I was 8, was a cheerleader in high school and have studied dance and movement in one form or another ever since.
Also with these aerial stunts, they look like they require plenty of strength and endurance. What does your fitness routine consist of in order to keep you fit for your shows and how important was it when you first started with the aerial violin?
I work with a Pilates / Physical trainer 3 times a week on Pilates equipment, I stretch every morning and then right before my aerial act, I do various other exercises depending on what I need to work on – sometimes ballet, sometimes just running in the gym or sometimes just perfecting a move by getting to the theater early and practicing on my silks before the show.
Can you discuss your experience from being on America’s Got Talent?
It was crazy exciting – I did really well and had an incredible experience onstage and with the audience. Pierce Morgan had me perform almost 15 minutes because he kept asking me to do all kinds of things — he thought I should quit everything and be a singer while Sharon Osborne and David Hasselhoff loved my aerial violin act and combination of talents. I got a big standing ovation from the crowd and I thought it was the greatest performance of my life! Unfortunately, after I filled out all the paperwork for the producers, the PRODUCERS cut me from the show, and I’ll never know why. It was funny though that when they aired my audition on national television that the editors utterly altered what actually happened by the way they put footage together. Nevertheless, it remains in my mind as just a great experience.
Out of the many venues you have performed at, from the White House to Carnegie Hall, has any one place been more memorable than the others?
Well, yes. Carnegie Hall was of course a huge thrill – I played my first major recital there with New York Times critics and other important reviewers there…the hall was phenomenal and the experience was daunting yet glorious. The first time I played in an arena with 26,000 people was scary and exciting! I played a lot of tours in Japan and performed in some incredible halls like Suntory Hall in Tokyo as well. The Rudolfinum in Prague was especially meaningful to me because I had heard a concert there when I was much younger and had dreamed of performing there myself, so that was a crazy dream come true. What has always meant more to me than anything; however, is WHO is in the audience rather than what the hall is. It is thrilling for me to perform for great artists and performers, so when I know they are in the audience, I cannot help but be inspired beyond what I normally do.
Since you are considered to be the world’s “only aerial violinist,” do you think there will be others in the future pursuing similar forms of music?
Do you play any other instruments aside from the violin and piano?
I used to play trumpet in junior high and high school. I play a little bit of guitar, the Chinese violin (called an Erhu), and I can fake my way around a viola and cello.
How has your time at the Branson Belle compared to your past stops?
It’s great here! I love being in a beautiful location on the water with natural beauty and greenery everywhere – VERY different from New York City! It’s also very refreshing to work in a family friendly environment that encourages families to spend time together. The Branson Belle nurtures a supportive environment and I really enjoy working with the other performers, the crew, the staff…everyone!
What can fans look forward to from you in the near future?
l always have something up my sleeve. I recently just published a children’s book called “How I Learned to Fly” which is available in hard cover on the boat after my shows, on my website and also a Kindle version available. I’m producing a special Star Spangled Banner aerial violin video for Youtube and several other videos that are geared for national TV.
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