Andrea Martin, a songwriter behind a string of R&B hits, including Monica’s “Before You Walk Out of My Life” and Toni Braxton’s “I Love Me Some Him,” died Sept. 27 in a hospital in New York City. She was 49.
Her songwriting partner, Ivan Matias, confirmed her death but said the cause was undetermined.
Ms. Martin’s first major songwriting credits, which she shared with Matias and other co-writers, came in 1995. Along with Carsten Schack and Kenneth Karlin, she wrote “Before You Walk Out of My Life,” which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and established Ms. Martin as an in-demand writer.
Ms. Martin, Matias, and Marqueze Etheridge together wrote a No. 1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts, En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love).” The song was nominated for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal at the 1996 Grammy Awards.
Ms. Martin was also a talented vocalist, initially finding work as a backup singer. Drew Dixon, a vice president at Arista Records in the 1990s, took notice. She signed Ms. Martin to her label as a solo artist, and Arista released her album, “The Best of Me,” in 1998. The record was not a commercial success, although one of its tracks, “Let Me Return the Favor,” charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as a single.
“Hearing people sing my songs was the greatest feeling ever, but it wasn’t a chance for me to express how I felt,” Ms. Martin said in a 1999 interview with the Daily News in New York about the release of her album. “The songs were about my life, but somebody else was singing it. I just wanted people to know this is me and present an album that represents me.”
Dixon cited racism and colorism in the recording industry as possible reasons that Ms. Martin’s solo career did not take off. Had she been lighter-skinned, Dixon said, her career might have gained more traction.
“Andrea was, without a doubt, one of the best singers I ever encountered in my career, and I’m including Whitney, Aretha, Lauryn, and Deborah Cox when I say that,” Dixon said.
Andrea Martin was born April 14, 1972, in New York to Reginald Martin Sr. and Mavis Martin. Her family lived in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood.
She told the Daily News that her biggest inspiration as a child was Michael Jackson. “I’d try to imitate him all day,” she said.
She attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, graduating in 1990, and jumped right into writing songs and performing locally — even resorting to singing in the lobbies of buildings housing music publishing companies to attract the attention of executives. Her big break came when Rondor Music, a major publisher, signed her to a contract in the early 1990s.
She is survived by two children, Eresha and Amaya; her parents; her sisters Audrey and Wendy Martin; and her brothers Reginald Jr., Michael and Shane.
Ms. Martin continued to work steadily through the 2000s, writing for Leona Lewis, Melanie Fiona and Sean Kingston, and appearing as a featured artist and backup singer for other acts. Matias said he expected to see unreleased projects featuring Ms. Martin emerge in the coming years.
“She had a very specific sound to her writing,” Matias said. “And it didn’t matter who she worked with. She was infused into the melody.”