About sallie martin

Sallie Martin Sallie Martin was born 20th November 1895 in Pittfield, GA. She was an African American gospel singer and a businesswoman. She was the first singer of gospel songs. Martin quitted school at eighth grade and relocated to Atlanta starting a run of jobs including babysitting, washing clothes and cleaning houses. Sallie would later joined the Fire Baptized Holiness Church in 1916 that saw her enjoy the Sanctified singing in the church. The family would later move to Chicago in 1920s including Sallie, her son and husband where she later divorced her husband in1929. She was absorbed in a nearby Hospital while pursuing her desires in gospel in her off hours.

She had heard of Thomas A. Dorsey that had electrifying gospel then in Chicago church culture that saw her arranged an audition. However, Sallie’s down-home style initially was at odds with Thomas A Dorsey’s fledging movement but later in 1927 joined the Dorsey Trio despite her serious misgivings about her unrefined style characterized with groaning and whooping besides a great deal of physical movement besides being unable to read music (Young 1997). Martin made her debut with his team in Ebenezer Church and in 1933 produced her first solo that instantly connected her with fans. She opened a music store that accrued a lot of profits leading to an adversarial and respectful relationship with Dorsey as they each inter-depended.

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Following the saturation of Dorsey songs in Chicago, she traveled to Cleveland in 1933 where she organized a chorus setting similar teams in South and Midwest. Martin and Dorsey became the co-founders, and organizers of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and choruses serving as the vice-president till her death. She went solo in 1940 and teamed up with Ruth Jones, a young pianist. Martin together with gospel composer Kenneth Morris teamed up in 1940 with financial backer Rev. Clarence H. Cobb forming Martin and Morris, Inc. publishing company, the biggest of kind in America and performed with Ruth and arranger Roberta Martin. Sallie formed the Sallie Martin Singers with Roberta Martin, Eugene Smith and Willie Webb, the first female group in gospel history.

Martin traveled the Gospel concert circuit as a soloist in conjunction with her singer team that stayed up to mid-1950s. Martin contributed greatly taking the leading role in the French production of ‘Gospel Caravan in Paris in 1979. Her hits were “Just A Closer Walk with Thee” and “God Put A Rainbow in the Clouds” and “He’ll Wash You Whiter Than Snow.” She was an active supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King with her involvement in the civil rights movement leading to her invitation to attend the 1960 celebration that marked Nigeria’s independence. She donated to the Nigerian Health Program culminating into a state of office building named in her honor. She is credited with ushering in of spiritual music to the masses always referred to as, “The Mother of Gospel” by the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. She died in Chicago in June 18, 1988.

Work Cited

Young, Alan. Woke Me Up This Morning: Black Gospel Singers and the Gospel Life. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997. Internet resource.

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