Martin Hurkens is a baker by trade. In 2009 he lost his job in Holland. Martin had been a baker for 35 years and had no trade outside of tending an oven and creating food delights in a commercial kitchen.
Martin always dreamed of being an opera singer. When he was a 7-year-old boy he auditioned for the youth choir in his native village Schinveld. The director was very fond of his vocal talent and took him under his wing as a soloist. Martin began singing in churches and became very popular.
At 13, Martin received a scholarship to music school in Brunssum, where he studied singing and piano lessons. Funding problems forced him to leave the music school. His dream of becoming a professional singer ended abruptly.
After processing this disappointment Martin made his career with Erkens Bakeries in Brunssum. Martin continued to sing because he was happy. He sang because it made his day at the bakery a pleasure. He sang because it made him feel good. He sang and baked for 35 years. Then he lost his job.
In order to provide for his family Martin turned to the streets to share his talent with the small crowds that would pass by. He would lay his hat on the cobblestone street and resonate the joy he felt within.
Later that same year he entered a talent competition called “Holland Has Talent”. Could an aged amateur opera singer overcome the advantages youth had in both energy and a sizable majority of the television demographic that voted on the competition?
The competition was tough, but Martin built a following and he made it to the finals where he made the most of his moment in time. He won “Holland Has Talent” in 2010. He began a recording career and has given countless beautiful performances in the Netherlands, Turkey and even New York City. He also began headlining with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra.
Success has never gone to Martin’s head. He remembers the pain of having lost his scholarship and his job. He humbly accepts success, but has never lost his benchmark. Today Martin can still on occasion be seen laying his hat down on the cobblestone streets of Brunssum.
Strangers and tourists do not recognize him and sometimes give him looks of scorn when he first lays down his hat (see above video). When his voice begins to sing in perfect pitch to the small crowd a transformation takes place.
Those watching begin to smile as their hearts are touched by his rendition. Martin is no longer simply a street singer. Martin is an angelic evangelist of the hope we have in life and the love of God.
When he holds the last note for what seems like eternity his hat holds the worth of the value the crowd sends his way. He doesn’t need the money, but he wraps himself in the spirit in which it is given.
Martin’s story is inspiring because he made the most of his moment. Martin reminds us we are raised up so we can stand on mountains. He also reminds us to remember the cobblestone streets from which we came.
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