HUMBOLDT — Manitoba-born singer and songwriter Luke McMaster will be performing in Humboldt, bringing soulful Motown music to the town.
“We do a set of originals and covers, all written by or written with these iconic Motown songwriters and producers, and we have all these stories that we tell people in the audiences before we do a song,” McMaster said.
The singer has done collaborations around the world with singers including Rihanna, Nick Carter, Nick Lachey, Kalan Porter and Marc Jordan.
But Motown is where McMaster’s heart can be found.
McMaster said he became obsessed with Motown music from a young age.
“My dad [George McMaster] was a university professor at Brandon University and he went all over the world doing talks and sabbaticals. He came back from Detroit and he had a stack of vinyl. I think I was around 10 years old or so.”
The vinyl contained Smokey Robinson and other Motown artists.
“I was kind of able to sing a lot of those falsetto notes and just love the melody,” he said. “Pretty early on I just started exploring music and writing songs.”
Out of high school, McMaster went into music history in post-secondary and started busking.
This is where he would meet another musician named Rob James.
Together, they formed the music team “McMaster and James”, gaining gigs five times a week in clubs before recording their first record.
“One of our first tours when we were signed were opening for NSYNC on an arena tour of Canada. Then a few years later we were lucky enough to have a gold record and tons of touring and stuff – but the band ended up parting ways.”
McMaster spent the time working on his songwriting, before collaborating with Rihanna on “Final Goodbye” for her Girl Like Me album.
“That was really interesting, that really opened my eyes to the potential I might have as a songwriter,” McMaster said.
A year and a half later, McMaster created the radio hit "Good Morning, Beautiful" in a collaboration with piano player Jim Brickman.
“It started to do so well on radio that I pretty much had to go on tour with him,” he said. “I just got back home and I was just like, ‘Wow, I want to do a record, I want to do what I always wanted to do’ – which was this real Motown classic soul thing, and it just made me realize I could do that.”
After this, he began working on his own Motown music putting together an album called All Roads, a mixture of cover and original Motown tunes.
Once the album was released, he began doing tours again.
While in Los Angeles he met with a producer in the industry who wanted to connect him with classic Motown artists including Lamont Dozier.
“He is part of the songwriting team that really helped invent the Motown sound,” McMaster said. “Just an incredible list of songs and experiences this guy had.”
After success in writing with Dozier, McMaster came back with a camera crew creating the Motown documentary.
McMaster’s latest album, released on Feb. 7, is called Songs of Smokey. Songs of Smokey features McMaster's reimagining of the soul singer Smokey Robinson's Motown hits, including "Ooo Baby Baby" and "Tears of a Clown."
Each song delivered with “McMaster's signature style.”
“Very warm, very emotive,” he said.
“It’s a lot of falsetto. I've been very influenced by Smokey Robinson, we actually just finished an album that we worked on with Smokey Robinson’s team actually.”
McMaster will be performing at the Humboldt Uniplex on Sunday, March 15.
His show in Humboldt will include songs from both Songs of Smokey and his previous release Icons of Soul: Volume 1.
“There’s just no act that would be doing anything like what we’ve done because we went to these incredible lengths to get together with these icons. So it’s really a celebration of Motown.”