This is the seventh post in a biweekly series. Read about the series — and just what we mean by “freestyle music” — here. Freestyle Fridays post on the first and third Fridays of each month. 

Nancy Martinez was born Nancy Martin-Quirion in Quebec in 1960. In 1982, she released two singles – one under the name “Jade,” the other under the name “Nancy Martin.” In 1986 she released her first album, “Not the Girl Next Door,” as Nancy Martinez. This Latin-flavored album, produced by Teneen Ali, spawned three hit singles in Canada, but only “For Tonight” crossed over to the United States and hit the Billboard Hot 100. Nancy continued to record and release albums and singles into the 1990s, including two French-language albums. After 1993, she mostly focused on background studio work for such artists as Celine Dion and Aldo Nova.

Nancy Martin-Quirion, Jade, Nancy Martin, Nancy Martinez. Latin-flavored Hi-NRG, freestyle, and French-language Canadian hits – there’s a lot going on with Nancy Martinez. She seems to be searching for her niche, casting about for some success, and finally settling into a more reliable career as a studio singer. A blog commenter points out a sloppy audio edit at the 2:44-2:46 mark (you can hear it in the video posted above), which he claims “doomed” Nancy Martinez’s career. I really, truly doubt that’s true but the sloppy edit is indeed there! Regardless, Nancy Martin-Quirion gave us some pretty amazing album covers…

I remember “For Tonight” being played quite a bit when I first started going to gay bars in Boston. Specifically, I remember this video from Club Café, which was  and still is!    an LGBT restaurant/cabaret/bar/dance club. In 1990, it was also a video bar. I wasn’t able to afford cable at the time, so I mostly saw videos when I was out at bars like Club Café. Back then, video bars played music videos, of course, but also clips from TV shows (“Golden Girls” was, inexplicably to me, very popular), campy comedy skits (say, the latest “Men on Film” sketch from “In Living Color,” or the incredibly popular “Sorority Girls from Hell”), and unique creations by the club’s VJs. In the early, early 1990s, the videos played at Club Café followed a somewhat regular rotation:

  • A song by a diva (Madonna, Janet Jackson)
  • Something from a British blue-eyed-soul act, preferably female-fronted (Swing Out Sister, Lisa Stansfield)
  • A diva-in-the-making (Ce Ce Peniston, Lonnie Gordon)
  • A song where Martha Wash’s voice was used but not credited (Black Box, C+C Music Factory)
  • A freestyle song
  • A comedy sketch
  • Repeat

Now, the dates don’t quite work out, but I seem to remember hearing “For Tonight” (released in 1986) quite a bit at Club Café ca. 1990. Maybe it had become a big enough hit in gay dance clubs for it to still be in rotation 4 or 5 years later? At any rate, I’ve always loved the song for its danceability, for Nancy Martinez’s voice, and most of all, for all the drama in that chorus. Listen to it a few times, and then try to not sing along!

Fun Facts

  • Number 32, Billboard Hot 100, December 27, 1986.
  • Number 2 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart
  • Number 2 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart in October of 1986.

Sign up for the weekly newsletter here.