Kentucky Music Hall of Fame member, Wanda “Linda Lou” Martin, passed away on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at the age of 91 years old. She was born in Gate City, Virginia, on March 31, 1926 to Joseph Coy and Alice Calhoun Arnold. She was the widow of Emory Martin, who was well known as being an influential banjo picker, all while performing with a nub arm.
When she was 15 years old, she received an offer from John Lair for a job as a performer at WGST Radio in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Lair gave her the stage name, “Linda Lou”. She later returned to Indianapolis, where she grew up, and got a job at WIBC Radio with Little Jimmy Dickens, as well as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper. She played fiddle, steel guitar, and sang. She formed a group with Virginia Sutton and Bernice Scott of the Blue Mountain Girls and called their show, Linda Lou’s Sunshine Special. Later, when she was 17, Mr. Lair offered her a job at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.
Not long after accepting the job, she met another performer named Emory Martin. Before the year was over, they were married between shows in Griffin, GA. They remained happily married for over 63 years until his death in 2006. Later in life, she became a Licensed Practical Nurse and was employed at the Rockcastle Baptist Hospital, as it was known then. She retired from the hospital and spent her time caring for her family. In 2013 she and Emory Martin were inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who loved her family very much. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon.
Wanda is survived by her son, Roy Martin and wife Pamela of Mt. Vernon; her grandchildren, Steve Martin and wife Donnaleah, Gina Masters and husband Jensen, and Alexandra Martin and fiancé Dylan Bishop; and her great grandchildren, Justice Masters, Ryan Martin, Jett Masters, Wyatt Martin, and Jaken Masters. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Emory; two sisters, Katherine Stevens and Gladys Woodward; and a brother, Howard Arnold.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.