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December 8, 2011

Downhere's Marc Martel wins Queen Contest

Lead singer of Christian rock band to play Freddie Mercury role in upcoming tribute tour


It should come as no surprise that Marc Martel, lead singer of the Christian rock band downhere, has won a contest to play the part of the late Freddie Mercury in the 2012 Queen Extravaganza Tour, a grand production celebrating the music of Queen and the classic band's 40th anniversary. A second vocalist, Jennifer Espinoza of San Antonio, Texas, was also chosen, as were two guitarists, a drummer, and a bass player.

"What an amazing and unexpected opportunity to come our way," said Martel, whose audition video earned him an MTV O Award and an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show. "Having gotten to know the other contest winners a bit, I'm confident we have what it takes to gel as a unit and give our best to do justice to some of the best rock music ever recorded. I am so thankful for for the chance to do this. Gonna be fun!"

Queen, one of the most influential rock groups of all time, has sold more than 300 million albums, recorded over 18 No. 1 singles, and have hundreds of millions of fans around the world.

Martel’s audition video (embedded below) of the song “Somebody to Love,” which has been viewed more than 5 million times, has wowed Queen fans for months. His voice is so spot-on, you’d think Mercury himself was singing.

The winners of the audition were just announced at a news conference this afternoon in Montreal. More details, including comments from Martel, to come soon.

Queen founder and drummer Roger Taylor has overseen the audition process, which concluded Monday with a final round of live auditions in Los Angeles. Taylor, who will produce and direct the Extravaganza tour, says it “will not be a traditional tribute show” but “a heart-stopping event. It’s going to be spectacular. It’s going to be very visual. There are going to be some shocks and some tremendous surprises. It will be a rock celebration in the royal tradition."

At Thursday's press conference announcing the winners, Taylor said that the talent "went way beyond my expectations. It was an incredibly difficult decision to choose the final line-up. I wish I could've kept them all, but in the end, I'm very happy with this group of exceptional musicians."

Martel is pictured above singing at the audition in L.A., and here’s a video of Martel at the same gig. And here’s Martel’s astonishing audition video, which posted in late September:


He's got the voice and the looks, but seems to lack the electric Freddie Mercury energy. Still, he must feel like he hit the jackpot -- instead of doing lame Christian rock at Jesus festivals, he's now belting out Bohemian Rhapsody with members of Queen.

He just needs the voice. No looks or jumping were necessary, he doesn't have to BE Freddy Mercury. By the way, there's no such "Jesus festivals", he loves christian rock, and will not be belting out with Queen members but other contestant finalists.

Marc DOES have the energy. Anybody who's watched him live in concert knows that. He can work a crowd anyday with Downhere and I doubt that's any different when he's playing with this Queen Trib. Band.


Marc's band, downhere, is anything but lame! The quality of the lyrics, musicianship, album production, and stage presence is phenomenal. Matter of fact, to prove my point I would buy you a couple of their albums.

Kathleen, Downhere is FAR from lame! Marc is an excellent lyricist and musician, and his stage presence is mesmerizing. Besides, Roger Taylor said they weren't looking for a copy cat, just looking to put together a great sounding band. I wouldn't go as far to say that he has hit the jackpot with this win, but more like this is a stepping stone to the next great thing God has for him and for downhere.

You should take Derk up on his offer!

Is this a "christian" blog? Where is the outrage? Where is the concern for Marc's future? He is leaving God for the idol of "rock music" and nobody seems to care?

Repent Marc, before it's too late. You're singing a gay man's songs, going on gay tv (ellen degenerate) and now you're starting to dress like the gay man...soon you'll be touring with Ray Boltz.

I'm am doing what I can to have Down Here's music removed from the christian air waves....just like they did to Ray Boltz.

This is a shame, and reflects the spirit of the age: self will, which is iniquity.

First time I heard downhere do "My Last Amen," I told my wife: "They sound like Queen!" It was nice to hear something different from the usual K-Love kind of song.

I myself have reservations about what Marc wiil do , but I'm willing to reserve judgement until he has actually done or said or sang anything that is inappropriate. As far as singing a gay man's songs, do we really know the origin's of all the song"s or people who have sang them? or the sexual orientations of every "Christian" singer,what about Michael W. Smiths drug use during his most succesful times, the sin with homosexuality is the justification of a lifestyle that is clearly immoral, but on that same subject do we all have sin's that we justify in our mind and sometimes never really repent and continue in, and is every sin equally wrong in God's eyes; adultery, pornography, all sexual sins that are comitted in the hearts of man, King David and his son Solomon come to mind. We must remember that we cannot view thing as God does, I love downhere, there music is incredible the lyrics are sraight out of scripture, the haven't sought the limelight like so many others have,i.e. Switchfoot and Need to Breathe( both who I like alot also), they play mostly in Churches and sometimes for free, they cannot be listened to w/o drawing you to God/Jesus, I think they have been greatly overlooked by K-Love and most other Christian music station's, I will however rethink my opinion of Marc if decides to sing particular Queen song's that are "bad", I hope he has enough fortitude to know where to draw the line,and hope is able to spread the Gospel to people who really need to see a legit Chritian, which I know that Marc is. We don't know all the details, and until I do i will support the ban until I have reason not to

The comments I have read since finding out about this competition from Christians has astounded me. Tricia’s comment calling Ellen Degeneres “Ellen Degenerate” is an example of the meanness I speak of. Maybe you should think of your own need to repent. Where in the Bible does it teach us to insult others? We as Christians like to tell others what will keep them from heaven. I actually had a Christian (a well-meaning one I’m sure) once tell me my parents weren’t saved before they died because they were Catholics. This person knew nothing of the heart of my parents and their relationship with Christ. This is exactly what keeps people away from Christ. I had to go on line to read about Ray Boltz and find out what the story was there. I was amazed to again read Christian people comments about his homosexuality and coming out. Some that sickened me were the comparison of the “sin” of homosexuality to pedophilia. That just blows my mind and quite frankly angers me. I’m not going to debate homosexuality here though and do not believe Marc is going to go to hell if he sings Freddie Mercury’s songs. What I will say is how secular music, yes I said secular music saved my life as a child growing up in a horrific situation. I grew up listening to Queen and many other groups; they gave me music and lyrics to the struggles I was trying to cope with and were an outlet to just escape the hell on earth around me . I won’t go into personal details here, but it wasn’t Christian music or even Christians that were showing me love helping me survive growing up an orphan in the foster care system. I am a Christian now, but still listen to much of the music I grew up on in the 80’s including that gay Freddie Mercury. I’m sure if many of you saw my ipod you would have much to say. For the most part I love Christian music and that is usually what is playing, but Christian radio lacks in playing variety in the groups and type of music they give airtime to. I became a Downhere fan about three years ago when I saw them perform at Atlanta Fest. I was struck by their talent and their reverence for the message. I remember thinking when I learned how long they had been around, I was “Why have I never heard of them before”? “Why do they not get airtime on my local Christian radio station”? “Why do they get such a lousy time spot (the hottest part of the day) in this festival every year”? I will continue to be a downhere fan, a Marc Martel fan. I hope to see them at Atlanta Fest this year (maybe they will get a better set-time) and have every intention on seeing Marc when he tours with the Queen tribute band. Think what you want about me.

I think it's neat that this young man has been given an opportunity to witness to people who probably don't hear the gospel very often. Think of it - he will be out in the limelight and singing (and he sings VERY well) to crowds of likely predominantly unbelievers, touring with probably mostly unbelievers and he has credence in their eyes because he is talented and is among them. Good grief people! Pray for him that the Lord will bless him and use him to reflect Jesus to all he encounters! I'm an old Jesus Freak (old being the operative word) and if it weren't for those people in the 60's and 70's who were willing to reach out to those of us who were unlikely to darken the door of a church, I am not sure I'd know Jesus today. I think this is exciting that a godly young man can have this opportunity. So pray for him for boldness as well as protection from what the evil one might want and bless him as he reaches people during this tour by being an example. And ask the Lord to help him reach those that HE has prepared along the way.

Christian music is anything but lame, it is inspiring, uplifting and it worships our creator and yes, there is such a thing as "Jesus" festivals, they are just all christian bands. Cornerstone is held every summer in Bushnell, IL and it is like a huge christian woodstock, it is awesome and that is just one of them. Good for Marc, I pray he uses this to witness and bring people to Christ!

WE as Christians are told/taught to be the salt and light in this dark world! Do you read the word or just judge others...Is that your job?! to judge others I think not. Please listen to the song HOW MANY KINGS by Downhere I am sure I will see Marc in Heaven!!!

Excuse me, SUZANNE RICHEY, you're associating the wrong comment with my name. The person who referred to her as 'Ellen Degenerate' is the person calling themselves 'no3gods'. Please note that the name of the person posting appears UNDER the comment.

I am a fan of Ellen. I thinks she's funny. I love Marc to pieces and would NEVER say he dresses like a 'gay man' (whatever that even means), and I don't even know who Ray Boltz is!!! I have supported Marc throughout this whole ordeal and will continue to.

Please make sure you know what you're talking about before posting something. Thank you. God bless you.

Just for accuracy (this is how stories start), I think John has the wrong Michael (Dec 11)

Thanks to the fact that i am lifelong Queen fan en tnaks to the Queen Extravaganza audition of Marc Martel on Youtube, I came in contact with the music and lyrics of Downhere. I must say, it's the best thing that happened to me this year. I'm still blown away by the effect the music and lyrics have on me. I have definitely decided to follow Jesus.

By this contest, the Good Message of the gospel will reach at least a part of the more than 100 million fans Queen has worldwide by the music of Downhere. A great opportunity imho.

Let The Lord do his Thing, He knows what's best. Let's not try to pit Him in one of our little boxes.

One commenter is graciously reserving 'judgment'. The common thread from the nervous Christian commentators is exactly judgement. Heavy finger pointing is the glue that holds fundamentalists together. If one were hearing about Christianity for the first time and had only fundamentalists to learn from, he would conclude that Jesus was obsessed with passing judgement on others. Criminy, how do fundys miss all the messages of love and instead embrace the false notion that they were put here to judge other. Shut up and start leading by example and prove to the world that you understand what Jesus asks of you.

Any others that want to lynch this guy please refer to Bob the Builders comment. Remember Jesus had a lot of the same things said about him by the Pharisees every time he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes. Sometimes it amazes me how much easier the lost accept discipleship than believers do. Please understand believers when you committed to Christ you didn't join a members only club, you joined a family out to save more lost members of that family from death. Jesus came to save the lost and dying, and commissioned us to do the same. Mark is out there doing that right now. How many are going to here the story of the Christian Rocker now fronting a Queen tribute band that will get curious and check out his other music and how many of those will be touched the same way Bob the Builder was. Go be the light on a hill not the veil in the temple

It is interesting and a little sad to read the scriptural ignorance demonstrated in the majority of the posts. Yes we are to be light and salt. That is a given but so is separation from the wickedness of the world. Sodomy is an abomination. It is not loving to gloss over a behavior that God calls "a reprobate mind." Titus 2:11-12 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." Honestly, I never thought that I would have to explain to Christians that impersonating and promoting a sodomite is neither godly nor righteous. What a sad day.

Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
Though this article should cause true "Christians" to recoil or spue...(that's vomiting or "hurling" to those unfamiliar with biblical terminology) in discust at the association of Christianity with sodomy and the promotion of that deviant unatural behavior, it comes as no surprise. There is an ever increasing tolerance of evil in our culture as a whole and the lines between wickedness and righteousness have become a blur, a grey area so to speak. The problem is lies in what man accepts as his final authority. Do we base our actions on what we feel is right or what God has to say about it?
One thing is for sure, this young man's desire to be a famous singer did not happen overnight, it is also appearent he will do what ever it takes to make a name for hinself. Using the excuse it will offer him a chance to reach the lost is a poor excuse at best, he could do so without selling out to the devil in choosing to associate himself with wicked lifestyles. One need not look very far to see where being a sodomite will take you with the average lifespan shortened by several decades, We'd ask Freddie Mercury how great it is but he is not longer around to share his testimony!(Killed by AIDS at age 45---Romans 1:27)
Many of the posts here reveal the extent of where the modern "churches" and so called "christians" stand. The same folk would likely allow a "free beer" tent at big-time revival saying the end would justify the means. Encouraging drunkeness to get a few professions of faith would or should be deamed terrible in the eyes of a saved person. Likewise promoting sodomy "in the name of the Lord" is twisted thinking if not down-right blasphemy!
Lastly we must not overlook the leavening so prevalent in most all churches today in the form of "ungodly" music. Many feel that if we take a worldy rhythm, a few minor chords and throw in a little bible or religious theme that we have Godly music, not so! Many modern and contemporary christian songs speak in general terms---the songs could be about the Lord, there again they could be about Bruce Willis, who can tell. The "old paths' are now grown over with weeds; guitars synthetic music has replaced the good old hymns that glorified God. Standing in the back of some churches watching the folks sway from side to side one would not know whether they are in God's house or a rock concert. Casual and comfortable are the buzz words today, "Wear your Hard Rock t-shirt to church if you like, God only looks at your heart" whatever......(And yes He is still looking!)
This post is not aimed any individual, but just a reminder about leavening, the devil and his subtil ways. Look around, the ship is sinking fast and unless people get back to the Bible (KJV) as their final authority we will not see change for the better.
P.S. I hope the Queen revival is a flop!!!

i think quenn should get back together and have this guy sing it would be so amazing it would be one of the biggest tours of all time for sure

I have been a Queen fan since my teenage years, and still think Freddie Mercury was an enormous talent who made regretable choices that took him from us too soon. Marc is obviously another gifted individual...I can see how the melding of popular music delivered by a Christ follower has the potential to reach those that may not be reached otherwise.

Make a joyful noise... that's what I tell my hubby the Bible commands me to do...when I am singing praise music in my horrible voice in the shower. I don't think God cares WHAT we sing as long as it is for His glory. And I hope He smiles when I sing, even if it is off key.

A few years ago, I came across Downhere when flipping through the radio stations and heard "How Many Kings". The passion and love of God in Marc's voice was so powerful, I had to go online and buy their albums, and have been a fan since. I can listen to their music which I believe moves me to be a better person and keep my faith alive in a different way. Hey can't have too many positive influences in your life. I am a practicing Catholic, not sure if many of us listen to Christian Rock, but I recognize the true faith and struggle that the band shares in their lyrics and glorious sound. A message that should be all over the airwaves!! I'd like to see them break into non Christian rock stations. There is so much garbage out there!! I too pray that Marc can keep himself always abiding in the Lord. If you listen to much of what Freddy Mercury sings about it is a desire, longing for something that he could not find, much like many in our world. He was a deeply confused man, like many people throughout history. Freddy was not so much loved for his lifestyle but for his passion. I think Marc can bring many more people to Jesus, by venturing out into the "world" I pray that Marc remains close to the Lord, so that Marc can be used by him in the best sense of the word. My prayers are with you Marc and with the continued fruitfulness of Downhere.

I would like Downhere rescued the lost the way they are. As Marc will speak the gospel singing songs confused? Downhere is home to Marc. I like to hear God speaking and not Freddie Mercury. MARC YOU BELONG TO GOD!

I hope the Queen shows bring some much needed attention to Downhere, I don't see how it wont.
Also, why is it that you mention the music of Queen to christians the first thing they think about is sodomy?
The songs of a gay man? Seriously?
Those attitudes are unproductive and sadden me.
I see God working for good through all this.