Martin Attard (7 September 1957 - 23 July 2015) was a Maltese musician, songwriter and photographer.
He was born to Mary and Carmelo and has two younger siblings, Miriam and Charmaine. As a kid, he used to spend a lot of time with his grandparents as he enjoyed listening to his grandpa singing l-għana. At the age of 7 his auntie bought him an amateur guitar and it was Martin’s delight to join in the għana mimicking his grandfather on the guitar and listening to his auntie sing. His Uncle Ġużi, who used to be part of the Stella Maris Band Club, used to play the clarinet and mandolin and it was he who started to teach Martin a couple of chords. Later on, another uncle saw Martin’s passion for music and bought him a proper guitar. Martin took the initiative and started learning by himself with the help of books.
Between the ages of 16 and 17 played the drums with St Julian’s Band Club. His passion for music only grew stronger and he had this genuine thirst to keep on learning. He used to love listening to music, especially the British emerging bands, and the Italian canta-autore genre. Inspired by this golden age of music, at a very early age, he started writing music of his own. He also started writing prose and most of his early works depict love stories.
Martin met Evelyn, his future wife, a couple brought together by love for music and art. Evelyn gave voice to some of his earliest works with her singing, with Martin playing the guitar. He started teaching Evelyn how to play the guitar too and together they went to various venues and played accompanied by a band.
Martin met Mario Debono and together wrote many songs which they performed at various YTC festivals. Martin loved the Maltese language and above all he love the Maltese culture and heritage. In most of his early works he used the intricacies of the Maltese language and wrote about the Maltese people, their habits, heritage and landscape in a romanticised way.
However, Martin was very opinionated, and believed there were issues within the Maltese culture which have to be talked about in a non-romantic form. Songs like Għawdex, Il-Għaliex, Triq l-Imtaten, X’Ċuċ Huma, Tuni ftit Nifs and the most famous of them all Pajjiż tal Miki Maws may confirm this. The latter, especially had received various criticism because of the subject tackled, but Martin beleived that after Independence, this country needed ‘the pen’ as a tool to show how strong Malta was growing solo, thus giving a voice to the people’s perspective.
Martin was indeed sensitive to the world around him and this is what also led him to create art – music, lyrics and photography. He loved expressing what he was going through in his life, what he was reacting to in his daily routine. In his lyrics, one can see how much he loved the Maltese culture, landscape, history and heritage and Pajjiż tal Miki Maws is a direct reaction to that. Being satirical might not seem evident at first glance, but it is evident in context of other songs he was writing at the time: Għawdex about the affliction of property development on the Gozitan landscape, Il-Għaliex about the reckless nature in the way we Maltese treat our heritage, and many more.
Martin was also a professional photographer. He had a very healthy curious mind, and therefore surrounded himself with books and manuals and was always prepared to learn more and more. He joined the Department of Information as a permanent photographer and through this he had the opportunity to attend a lot of political conventions, which made him even more aware of the politics in Malta. In his job, he had the opportunity to photograph some very important people like Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and Pope John Paul II.
He loved photography as much as he loved music, and as a photographer he was a very successful one as well. He received multiple awards for his photographic works, and in his later years found a passion for travelling. Throughout his travels he brought back photographic work which he compiled and was intended to exhibit.
He was a talented human being; a designer, a photographer, a painter, a writer and a talented musician. He never learnt formal music, and yet he could play the guitar, drums, harmonica and the piano, and learnt all of these by ear. Once, Martin was asked to produce the written musical score for one of his songs by festival organisers. He immediately went to books, internet and friends to learn how to write music, and in no time, he wrote the musical notation.
But Martin passed away during one of his travels, in Croatia. During the climb to Medjugorje’s mountain, his heart gave out, and this location lives to be his last photographed place. The task to bring Martin's dead body back to his country proved to be difficult, but with the help of many Maltese, he was brought back and is resting in peace in the land he loved.