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Martha Carson
Born:  May 19, 1921
Died:  December 16, 2004
Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (1985)
Renfro Valley Barn Dance
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WHIS Bluefield, WV
WLAP Lexington, KY
WNOX Knoxville, TN
WSB Atlanta, GA
WSM Nashville, TN

Martha Carson was a native of Neon, KY in Letcher County and enjoyed success seemingly every step of the way in her careers. She started picking folk tunes and spirituals on her mail order guitar when she was in grammar school. She was even composing hew own songs before she was ten years old. Her musical career then took her to singing old-time and gospel songs with her sisters Bertha and Opal; they were known as the Sunshine Sisters and were quite a popular radio act. Along came 1939 and while working over at radio station WLAP in Louisville on Asa Martin's "Morning Roundup" show, she met up with James Roberts, a mandolin player who was the son of the legendary fiddler, Doc Roberts. They got hitched and began performing together as a duo and moved on to radio station WHIS in Bluefield, WV in 1939.

From there, she moved on to the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Kentucky and became one of the Coon Creek Girls. While a member of the Coon Creek Girls, they went to WSB's Barn Dance in Atlanta, Georgia in 1940. At WSB, she and her husband began performing as "James and Martha Carson, the Barn Dance Sweethearts", doing country gospel tunes and were a popular act there for about ten years.

Together, they moved on to Knoxville's WNOX and were part of the noontime "Mid Day Merry-Go-Round" show. Martha also appeared on such shows as the Georgia Jubilee, Sunny Side of Life, Mid-day Merry Go Round, Tennessee Barn Dance and others.

In an interesting bit of trivia, her friends said she has never performed in the same costume twice.

A Birmingham station once celebrated "Martha Carson Day" during which they played all of her numbers, and saluted Martha as "...one of the most popular and beloved folk music stars of the country."

In 1951, she was divorced from James. From that point on she pursued a solo career both as a song writer and singer.

In May 1952, Martha answered the invitation to join the famed the Grand Ole Opry heard over WSM in Nashville, TN. While there, she appeared on morning programs, the Opry and weekly on WSM-TV. She was also featured nightly for a stint on the Astor Roof.

Martha could sing the country style ballads but was best-known for her religious and gospel tunes. A 1947 recording of "The Sweetest Gift" and her husband's "Man of Gallilee" were highly acclaimed. Her Opry stint was the result of a rousing popular recording called "Satisfied". Another popular tune of hers was "I'm Gonna Walk and Talk With My Lord". Her records climbed the charts and were popular on the jukeboxes.

She remained on the Grand Ole Opry until around 1957 when she had remarried and took a 'leave of absence' for the birth of her first child and to attend some commitments in New York. But for some reason, never returned to the Opry.

Credits & Sources

  • Portions based on Country Song Roundup No. 22, February 1953, American Folk Publications, Inc., Derby, CT.

Appearance History This Month
 
April 25, 1965

Des Moines, IA

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Recordings
 
Cadence
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1356 A That Ain't Right
  1356 B Light Of Love
 
Capitol
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1900 A Satisfied
  1900 B Hide Me Rock Of Ages
  1982 A (If You Never Needed The Lord Before) You Sure Do Need Him Now
  1982 B Weighed In The Balance (And Found Wanting)
  2077 A Old Blind Barnabuss
  2077 B I Wanna Rest
  2145 A Beyond The Shadow
  2145 B I'm Gonna Walk And Talk With My Lord
  2252 A Cryin' Holy Unto The Lord
  2252 B Fear Not
  2342 A Inspiration From Above
  2342 B There's A Higher Power
  2477 A I Feel It In My Soul
  2477 B Ask, And Ye Shall Receive
  2634 A I've Got A Better Place To Go
  2634 B Singin' On The Other Side
  2740 A Bye And Bye
  2740 B Lazarus
  2825 A He'll Part The Water
  2825 B I Bowed Down
  2969 A Peace On Earth (At Christmas)
  2969 B Christmas Time Is Here
  3045 A It's All Right (If You've Done Your Best)
  3045 B Counting My Blessings
  4437 A High On The Hill
  4437 B Everything's Alright
 
RCA
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20-6250 A Lord I Can't Come Now
  20-6250 B I've Got So Many Million Years
  20-6293 A Let The Light Shine On Me
  20-6293 B Laugh A Little More
  20-6413 A David And Goliath
  20-6413 B I Want To Rest A Little While
  20-6510 A Music Drives Me Crazy (Especially Rock N' Roll)
  20-6510 B Dixieland Roll
  20-6603 A All These Things
  20-6603 B Faith Is The Key
  20-6724 A Get The Golden Key
  20-6724 B He Was There
  20-6861 A Let The Light Shine On Me
  20-6861 B Satisfied
  20-6948 A Now Stop
  20-6948 B Just Whistle Or Call
  47-6250 A Lord I Can't Come Now
  47-6250 B I've Got So Many Million Years
  47-6293 A Let The Light Shine On Me
  47-6293 B Laugh A Little More
  47-6413 A David And Goliath
  47-6413 B I Want To Rest A Little While
  47-6510 A Music Drives Me Crazy (Especially Rock N' Roll)
  47-6510 B Dixieland Roll
  47-6603 A All These Things
  47-6603 B Faith Is The Key
  47-6724 A Get The Golden Key
  47-6724 B He Was There
  47-6861 A Let The Light Shine On Me
  47-6861 B Satisfied
  47-6948 A Now Stop
  47-6948 B Just Whistle Or Call
 
Rich-R'-Tone
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1031 A I Want To Rest
  1031 B Looking This Way (w/Bill Carlisle)
 
Sims
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  144 A Everybody Needs Somebody
  144 B It Takes A Lot Of Lovin'


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