'Downhere' Singer Marc Martel the Next Freddie Mercury?

Christian band Downhere has been the subject of much media attention recently because of singer Marc Martel's uncanny Freddie Mercury-like singing voice.

After the band appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Oct. 4, critics and fans alike can't stop raving about Martel’s performance and how much he sounds like the late Queen singer. He even has a similar appearance to Mercury.

Martel first started making headlines when he auditioned for the Queen Extravaganza Contest by singing "Somebody to Love."

The contest is being held by the remaining members of Queen – Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon – who wish to retire from performing. They are looking for the best replacement singers and musicians to create a Queen tribute group that can keep playing their music in future years.

“The Queen Extravaganza will not be a traditional tribute show,” said Queen drummer Taylor on the band's website. “It’s a brand-new show specially designed to enable fans to celebrate the music of Queen in a heart-stopping event.”

Martel is relatively new to many American and secular listeners, but in Canada and on the Christian circuit he's quite well-known.

He's one of the lead singers in Christian rock band Downhere, formed in 1999, which only became a band because of a school project. Jason Germain is the other lead singer, while Glenn Lavender plays bass and Jeremy Thiessen is the drummer.

The band was signed to Word Records after the label contacted the members through email. At first, the band members thought it was a joke, but after persistence from the company, they realized their dream.

Downhere has won several awards including the Juno Awards, Covenant Awards, Vibe Awards, Prairie Music Awards and Dove Awards.

Martel and Downhere are currently on "The Called Love" tour with Aaron Shust and Jason Gray, in promotion of their album “On the Altar of Love.”

The Queen contest ends in December 2011.

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