Martha CarsonMarch 06, 2012
Given Name: Irene Ehtel Amburgey
Date od Birth: May 19, 1921
Place of Birth: Neon, Kentucky
Married: James Carson, 1939
Date of Death: December 16, 2004
Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee
Called "The First Lady of Gospel Music," Martha began as guitar player with her sisters Jean and Berthey ("Mattie and Minnie") as "The Sunshine Sisters" in 1936. The Sunshine Sisters performed on WLAP Lexington (Kentucky) until 1938. For John Lair at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, she and her sisters also performed with Lily Mae Ledford in 1939 as the Coon Creek Girls (replacing some original members), and by themselves in 1940 as the Hoot Owl Holler Girls. In 1939, she married mandolin-player James Carson Roberts while performing at the WSB "Barn Dance" in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple began using the stage name "Carson" at this time and became one of the most popular acts of that region, eventually signing with Capitol Records.
In 1950, while performing at WNOX in Knoxville, the couple divorced. As a response to the stress of the divorce, Martha composed "Satisfied," inspired by a thought that came to her while riding to a gig with Bill Carlisle: "I'm satisfied and God is satisfied with me." Martha wrote the lyrics on the back of a blank check she found on the floor of Bill's car.
"Satisfied" — recorded in 1951 with Chet Atkins, Bill Carlisle, and sisters Jean and Berthey among the back-up musicians — went on to sell over one-million copies.
On the strength of "Satisfied," Martha was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1952.
Martha toured with Elvis Presley, Ferlin Huskey, Del Reeves, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Patsy Cline. Elvis also recorded satisfied and borrowed Martha's dramatic set-ending stance of dropping to one knee and holding the mic stand at an angle.
Martha appeared on a number of early television programs including those hosted by Arthur Godfrey, Ray Bolger, Ralph Emery, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Steve Allen, and Ed Sullivan.
In 1996, a highway near Neon, Kentucky was named the "Martha Carson Highway" in her honor.