It was almost by chance that at 8 years old Mghnon Martin picked up the violin, laying the groundwork for what has been a lifelong love of music and performing.
Her sister, who was playing the instrument at the time through an elementary school program, decided the violin wasn’t for her, leaving Martin the opportunity to take it up herself.
Now, more than two decades later, the 32-year-old classically trained violinist and jazz singer is set to take the stage on Dec. 5, 6 and 7 at this year’s Chicago Bar Association Bar Show as one of the city’s most powerful political figures: Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.
And the opportunity isn’t lost on Martin, a judicial law clerk for 1st District Appellate Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.
“I really think it’s an honor to play the first black woman mayor of the city, especially considering I am a woman of color,” said Martin, whose family traces back to Jamaica and Costa Rica.
The 96th annual show, “For Lying Out Loud,” features 50 cast members who will parody local and national political, sports and celebrity figures through song and dance.
Jeffrey Marks, a civil trial attorney and producer of this year’s show, described the performance as an “equal-opportunity skewer.”
“We make fun of Democrats, Republicans, sports figures, musicians, movie stars, whatever you can imagine,” he said.
Since news and current events are ever-changing, Marks said things are often incorporated into the show at the last minute.
Without giving too much away, Martin said attendees can expect a “high energy” song from her character with several backup dancers.
This is the fourth year Martin has been involved in the show.
“As I learned in law school it was tough to juggle both being a regularly gigging musician and doing law,” she said. “The show is a way for me to have an outlet to sing and dance with some of, I feel, the best musicians, writers, singers and dancers in the city.”
Martin attended the University of Miami where she earned her bachelor’s of music in 2009, specifically as a violin principal and jazz vocal secondary.
Martin spent a few years performing across the country and internationally, including New York, Nashville, Orlando, Fla., Shanghai and Guadalajara, Mexico.
Since her return to Chicago she has worked with several local jazz, rock, pop and soul bands.
Martin graduated from The John Marshall Law School in 2015. She went on to be a legal consultant before clerking for Cook County Circuit Judge Diane M. Shelley and ultimately Justice Hall.
“Being a lawyer allows me to understand the legal aspects as a musician in my daily life,” she said. “It’s enhanced my music career.”