Produced in South Carolina in 1941, Linda Martell started singing in church at age 5. Brought to country music in a young age, as well as blues, jazz and R&B, Martell got her big break in 1969, when a sensational performance at the Charleston Air Force Base got her a meeting with producer/label owner Shelby Singleton. He signed her to his Plantation label shortly after. The exact same year, Martell made the Top 25 with “Color Him Father” and became the very first African American girl to show up on the Grand Ole Opry. She retired in 1974. Her dad was a minister. Growing up in nearby Columbia, Martell acquired an understanding for a lot of different musical genres most notably country, blues, jazz and R&B at a youthful age.
During one of her performances in the Air Force Base, Martell was harassed by officers in the group, who insisted that she sing a country tune. She calmed the crowd when she eventually gave in, and blew them away with her performance. Martell found her big break when a serviceman who had been in the crowd that day told a pal, Duke Rayner, from Nashville, Tennessee, regarding the vocalist. The ensuing demo tape was taken to American record producer/label owner Shelby Singleton, who had been tremendously impressed with all the vocalist. Soon afterwards, Martell signed with Singleton’s Plantation label—the house of country star Jeannie C. Riley (“Harper Valley PTA”) recognition.
In the summer of 1969, Linda Martell’s tune “Color Him Father” from her debut record, Color Me Country (released by Plantation Records in 1970) was an immediate hit, making the Top 25. (She’d make 11 more appearances on the worldwide aired, renowned radio program throughout her career.)
Martell went to make many local television appearances, including on extensively aired syndicates for example Country Carnival, 16th Ave South, Midwestern Hayride as well as the Bill Anderson Show, as well as on important network programs like Hee Haw. Martell failed to appear on the country music charts again during her career. Following her 12th appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, the vocalist retired in 1974. Martell resides in Nashville. In line with the vocalist, she’s got a “secret” want to act and her biggest fear is losing her voice.