Malcolm Martin, 21: ‘Music really brought him out of his shell'

Malcolm Martin fell in love in the fourth grade. It was in music class that the two were introduced and the bond between the two was unmistakable, his parents said.

“He wanted to play the violin, but his teacher said his hands were too large,” said his mother, Alecia Martin. “So I guess she suggested the double bass and it started from there.”

For the rest of his life, Mr. Martin, a 2010 graduate of North Atlanta High School, was never far from his beloved double bass. He had aspirations of attending the Juilliard School in New York or the Berklee College of Music in Boston and was preparing for auditions.

“The first time he auditioned for Berklee, he didn’t make it,” Mrs. Martin said. “But he was determined to try again.”

Mr. Martin didn’t let an undiagnosed medical condition stop him from practicing or attending classes at Atlanta Metropolitan College, where he studied music and literature. In his senior year at North Atlanta, Mr. Martin had a seizure, his mother said. Subsequent tests and scans came back clear, but the seizures continued periodically.

Malcolm Alfonso Martin, of Atlanta, died June 13 in his sleep of a suspected seizure, his parents said. He was 21. A funeral service was held Wednesday at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral and his body was buried at Greenwood Cemetery. Murray Brothers Funeral Home, Cascade Chapel, was in charge of arrangements.

It took a few years for young Mr. Martin to grow into the large double bass, said his father, Michael Martin. For a while, the instrument was much larger than he was, but that didn’t stop him from playing.

“Music really brought him out of his shell,” his father said. “Before he was really a shy guy and stayed to himself. But not after the music came to him.”

After his introduction to music, many things changed for Mr. Martin, his parents said. He began to study beats and melodies in a way his parents didn’t quite understand, but they encouraged him.

“He was interested in the tone of the music,” Mrs. Martin said. “It was like he was reading the music, not just listening to it.”

Mr. Martin’s reputation as a double bass player preceded him at North Atlanta, said Reginald Colbert, the school’s former jazz band teacher, who currently leads the school's Center for the Arts program.

“I heard about his work ethic from when he was in middle school from a colleague,” he said. “He was an extremely focused young man who had an uncanny vision about what he wanted to do in life.”

Mr. Colbert said Mr. Martin was an exemplary student, the kind any teacher would wish for. The young man always wanted to improve and paid close attention to the instruction he was given.

“If he asked me something and I showed him a technique, I guarantee you he had it mastered the next time I saw him in class,” Mr. Colbert said. “He had a dedication you don’t see every day in someone his age.”

In addition to his parents, Mr. Martin is survived by sisters, Michelle Alyce Martin, of Atlanta, Kandace Muhammad, of Decatur, and Sasha Kahiga, of Atlanta.