Deana Martin is doing everything she can to keep her father’s memory alive.
Last week, Rare sat down with Martin while she was in Washington, D.C., for the National Italian American Organization gala, and she opened up about growing up with her famous father and how she made a name for herself in Hollywood.
Martin is currently promoting her new album, “Swing Street,” and gave us the inside scoop about her creative process.
“As a singer, I always have a wish-list of all of the songs that I want to sing,” she said. “And of course, I always sing some of my dad’s songs.”
This album is not only special to Martin because of the music, but also because of the place where it was recorded.
“This album was recorded at Capitol Records, where my dad recorded all of his fabulous, fabulous songs. And I did it in Studio A of Capitol Records, where my dad, and I watched him as a little girl, recorded his first song, his first number one hit, and that was ‘Memories Are Made Of This,'” Martin said. “So for me to go back there, years later, and use his microphone and Nat King Cole’s piano […] just walking down the halls to Studio A, you see Bobby Darin and Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Keely Smith, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra — uncle Frank.”
If those walls could talk!
Martin also gave us an impromptu performance of one of her favorite duets, “True Love,” which she once sang with her father but now sings with his audio.
“I do this in my show, and there’s a beautiful video going behind me,” she explained as the music from her iPhone queued up.
Martin is gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of her father’s birthday on June 7, 2017, and while he has been gone since 1995, she still remembers something very specific about him.
“The way he would smell. He wore Woodhue by Fabergé, and I remember going to the driving range with him, because he loved to golf,” she said. “When I think of him, I see him in his slacks with a polo shirt and a v-neck cashmere sweater.”
“I would sit and watch him [and the driving range], and he would say ‘C’mon Deana,’ and he would put his arms around me, and he would say, ‘OK, keep your head down and swing through the ball.’ And when he had his arms around me, and I could smell him. And it was Woodhue by Fabergé, and I still have a bottle of it.”
She said that after his death on Christmas 1995, she took one of his bottles.
“So every now and then, I take off the top and I’m right back there at our home in 601 Mountain Drive. I have a couple of his sweaters, too. It’s those. It’s the way he smelled and his sense of humor. And his voice.”
Martin also shared on fond memory of her father. A simple father-daughter bonding moment to the department store.
“One of my favorite moments with my dad… I was turning 16 years old, and I said I would like a coat… from Wilson’s House of Suede,” she told Rare. “He said, ‘you got it. And, I said, ‘I want you to come with me and pick out the coat.”
Dean Martin wasn’t thrilled about the outing, but to make his daughter happy, he went along with it.
You might think that because Martin had a famous father in the music business, following in his footsteps would come easy, but like everyone else, Deana worked hard and started from the bottom.
Working her way to success helped Martin come up with her advice for all aspiring performers.
“Do any job you can. The whole thing is: you just cannot give up. When people say ‘no,’ just keep on going,” she said. “It’s education, it’s getting out there and work and never give up. And dream big. And go on every audition that you can. Get your headshot, get your music and send it to everybody.”
She revealed the best advice her father gave to her when she was starting out.
“He said, ‘Always arrive early. Don’t give anyone a hard time. Get in there, do your work, stand on your mark and sing from the heart.”