RiverPark hosting 'Queen' music tribute

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Sep. 25—Marc Martel and "The Ultimate Queen Celebration" will break free in Owensboro.

The 44-year old Canadian rocker will lead the pack for "an explosive, attention-commanding tribute where some of the most iconic rock anthems of all time collide with a theatrical performance style and eye-popping production" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 at the RiverPark Center.

The tribute focuses on Queen's most well-known songs while tapping into the other genres that the late frontman Freddie Mercury explored towards the end of his life, such as opera arias, which Martel coins as "a greatest hits show with a twist."

"I think we can all agree that Freddie Mercury's voice is one of the greats, but Marc Martel is practically a reincarnation," said Grae Greer, RiverPark Center's director of marketing and education. "You won't be disappointed. We've had many performers over the last 29 years, but 'The Ultimate Queen Celebration' is unlike any we've had before. If you close your eyes, you'd think it's Freddie."

Hailing from Montreal, Martel began his journey in the music industry as the lead singer, guitarist and piano player for the Christian rock group Downhere in the late 1990s. The band's 2001 self-titled debut album won a Juno Award for Best Gospel Album and the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Canada Covenant Award for Rock Album of the Year.

Martel stayed with the band for 13 years, touring and releasing five more records before taking a break in 2011. During this time, Martel was encouraged by friends and family to apply for original Queen member Roger Taylor's video talent contest to find a musician to star in the live tribute touring band "The Queen Extravaganza," in honor of the band's 40th anniversary.

Martel's audition, a cover of the band's 1976 anthem "Somebody to Love," put Martel at the top of the pack of contenders receiving over three million views (now at 22.4 million) within the first week, followed by a performance on "The Ellen Degeneres Show."

Martel was chosen for the tour.

After six years and over 160 shows, Martel formed "The Ultimate Queen Celebration" in 2017 while juggling a solo career, releasing the modern rock record "Impersonator" in 2014 and the Christian-oriented extended play "The Silent Night" in 2016, and fronting "Symphonic Queen" with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Mexico (OFUNAM) in Mexico City.

Martel also can be heard lending his vocal talents in the Oscar-nominated film "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Greer said that the team at RiverPark are just as excited as the public will be.

"The staff and I have been watching all of Marc Martel's YouTube videos this week in preparation for his show," Greer said. "This homage to the iconic band is breathtaking, and it will make you feel like you're back with the original band."

While the goal is to have the crowd rocking with Martel and company, health and safety will be a top priority.

"RiverPark Center does require masks while in the building," Greer said. "For the safety of our staff, performers and patrons, we ask that everyone wears a mask while attending the performance."

Tickets for the event are on sale at riverparkcenter.org.

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