Martha Veléz

Martha Veléz (born August 25, 1945) is an American singer who released the blues-rock-soul albums Fiends & Angels (Sire, 1969) and Hypnotized (Polydor, 1972). Between 1973 and 1977, she released the Sire albums Matinée Weepers, Escape from Babylon, and American Heartbeat. Bob Marley produced Escape from Babylon, which includes her 1976 reggae-pop hit “Disco Night.”

She was born Martha Carmen Josephine Hernandez Rosario de Vélez on August 25, 1945, to a Puerto Rican family in New York City. A singer from age five, she won an opera scholarship as a 12-year-old mezzo-soprano. She attended NYC’s High School of Performing Arts.

Vélez first recorded with The Gaslight Singers, which issued two 1963/64 folk-pop albums on Mercury. In 1969, she cut her debut solo album, Fiends and Angels, at London Studios with backing by Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff (Free), Jack Bruce, Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience), Brian Auger, and then-Chicken Shack members Christine Perfect (later McVie) and Stan Webb.

After American Heartbeat, Vélez moved into acting. She played the lead in a Broadway run of the musical Hair. In 1986, she had a recurring role on the prime-time CBS drama Falcon Crest. In movies, she’s had minor roles in the 1993 adventure dramedy Father Hood and the 1995 psychological thriller Safe.

Vélez holds a master’s degree from Antioch University in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Cultural Mythology and Depth Psychology. She is a founding Fellow of the Imaginal Institute of Ojai, California.

As a playwright, Vélez wrote the award-winning play Power of the Powerless. Her younger brother, percussionist Gerardo “Jerry” Velez, backed Jimi Hendrix at his 1969 Woodstock performance and played in the icon’s short-lived Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. Gerardo later worked with Spyro Gyra, Patti LaBelle, and Van Morrison


  • The Gaslight Singers (The Gaslight Singers, 1963)
  • Turning It On (The Gaslight Singers, 1964)
  • Fiends and Angels (1969)
  • Hypnotized (1972)
  • Matinée Weepers (1973)
  • Escape from Babylon (1976)
  • American Heartbeat (1977)


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