Shy teenager from North Yorkshire tipped to be musical superstar

Billie Martin playing a gig at Major Tom's in Harrogate. (Photo by Stuart Rhodes)
Billie Martin playing a gig at Major Tom's in Harrogate. (Photo by Stuart Rhodes)

She’s the shy schoolgirl who might end up a superstar – just don’t try telling that to Ripon’s Billie Marten.

A music veteran at 17 and hailed by no less than Ed Sheeran as “stunning”, Billie will to set off on her first headlining UK tour shortly before starting work on her debut album.
But, to listen to this naturally gifted singer-songwriter, is to realise none of this was planned and none of it has gone to her head.
“I’m very lucky. None of this has been an ambition. I never had a specific goal. However old I was would stick to one thing then move on. I used to like ballet and horse riding. I’m very young, I don’t have a clear line yet.”
The summer has seen the talented teenager performing at the annual music festival Latitude in Suffolk.
Vanity Fair magazine even highlighted this quietly intense live performer as one of their top five tips.
It wasn't always this way. This intelligent young musician's very first live show was in front of a much smaller audience in Ripon.
She said: "I used to sit in my mum and dad's lounge when I was very small with a tiny guitar.
"I must have got roped into playing at a food festival or something. I remember I was on Ripon bandstand. The audience was a total of two, one of which was my dad and the other was the ice cream man."
Born Isabella Tweddle in 1999, Billie Marten is her stage name, by the age of nine she had her own YouTube channel of her singing online.
Her biggest early break came aged 12 when she recorded a session of cover versions for Ont Sofa, the Harrogate-based music video channel and production company.
The video soon attracted thousands of views on Ont Sofa.
The company's co-owner Jason Odle realised immediately Billie had something special.
He said: “To be honest, our jaws dropped to the floor. She went straight from writing songs at home to the sofa. What a voice and what a songwriter.
"We loved Billie's sound and jumped at the chance to help take her project a little further than the family's music room."
Since them Ont Sofa have gone on to direct some of her mesmerising live shows and organise the band behind some of her festival appearances, as well as working with her on songs in their Harrogate studio.
Having been influenced by her dad's love of acoustic legends John Martyn and Nick Drake almost from birth, she first came to national attention with her self-penned single Ribbon via Burberry's curation programme.
But the big breakthrough came when Billie won a record deal in early 2015 with Chess Club Records, a division of Sony Music who handle Mumford & Sons.
After releasing her incredible, self-penned song Heavy Weather, by the end of the same year Billie was basking in the limelight of being on the shortlist for the BBC Sound of 2016 award.
Big things are being predicted for Billie in future. Some have even mentioned Taylor Swift whose very different talents also shone through at a very early age.

Billie herself is more of a fan of Laura Marling, Kanye West and Radiohead whom she was taken to see in London earlier this year for her birthday.
As of this moment, however, despite all the activity, excitement and hype, Billie is thinking about her school work.
Being a teenager, Billie still has to juggle her music career with a possible future at university.
Currently, she is studying English literature, French and Art at Ripon Grammar School.
But ask this bright and breezy intelligent youngster what she wants to do next and you will get a conundrum.

She's clear-headed about her potential just not sure where it will take her.

Billie Marten. said: "I don't know what I want to do with my life. I've always got lots of options.
"I'd like to study art history. I quite fancy being a cobbler or a mechanic. I'd like to do write music for films. To make something like a film soundtrack would be insane."