Tony Martirano is about as native as it gets. Born and raised in Martinsburg (WV), he attended many of the schools and visited the local libraries where he now performs for kids and families as the region’s preeminent children’s musician.
Known professionally as Tony M. Music, Martirano taught elementary school for 11 years after graduating from Shepherd University. During his time as a teacher, Martirano began writing and playing songs that he would then play for his students. They (his students) loved the songs so much that other adults, performers, friends, and family members encouraged him to record the music and play for larger audiences.
In August 2014, he finally decided to take the plunge and play music professionally. Since then, Martirano has visited and played for hundreds of different schools, libraries, and family events throughout the region. Additionally, in early 2018, he founded the Tony M. Music and Arts Foundation (TMMAAF), a non-profit with the goal of bringing meaningful arts experiences and collaborations to the Berkeley County (WV) area.
Married, with three talented daughters of his own, Martirano has been busy both pursuing his musical career and helping to raise a family. But seven years after his first CD—Hopes and Dreams—came out, he’s now putting out the follow-up, set to release in mid-September (check back regularly with the website).
“That first album was to my kids, my family, essentially,” he said, “and from there, I wanted to do a second one, but it took a while to write. I actually thought I was ready in 2014, but the songs just weren’t there, so I put it off for a while, needless to say.”
Martirano has been playing the songs from the new album for quite a while, but they’ve evolved as well. “Now they’re how I want them; ultimately, it wasn’t forced, and I’m thankful for that … it feels right,” he noted.
The new album works for all ages—toddlers and up. “There are times when I play these songs in a room full of adults, truthfully—but kids are smart, and they pick up on some of the nuance in many of the songs. And during most of my performances with young people, I engage and interact with the kids—and take the time to explain a song.”
Over the years, not only has Martirano’s music evolved, but so has the artist himself. “Being older, you look at the world differently. It’s funny, a lot of the music has its roots in my family—lullabies to my kids, etc., but now my kids, like me, are older, and the music reflects that,” he explained. “A lot of the songs, in some ways, speak to navigating the world as a parent, and now I want to do more in the community—which was nurturing me for years. This album is more along those lines—wanting to give back more.”
As for what gets him up each day? “I’m human,” he pointed out. “There are days when you’re tired and not quite yourself, but the minute I get up there and start playing, everything changes, I just love it. I love doing this for people. It’s my passion. I’m immersed in the performance and the interaction with the audience. To see them react to my passion is as inspiring to me as it’s ever been.”
To find more information, purchase CDs (and more), donate to TMMAAF, and book Tony M. Music, visit the above links.