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Kentucky music legend Linda Lou Martin passes away

Linda Lou Martin
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame member and Renfro Valley performer, Wanda “Linda Lou” Martin passed away on November 16, 2017, at the age of 91.

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.