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She identifies as having Choctaw, Eastern Cherokee, and African American ancestry. Martha Redbone was born in New York City. Redbone spent childhood with her maternal grandparents in Black Mountain, Harlan County, Kentucky. Her maternal grandmother is of Eastern Cherokee and Shawnee ancestry, and her maternal grandfather is of Black African and Choctaw ancestry.
She wrote that she moved back to Brooklyn, New York, as a child, "but we went back to Kentucky often for ceremonies." As a musician and singer, Redbone combines music styles with African American and Native American roots music. She began performing under the name Martha Redbone in 1996, using the nickname "Redbone" given to her by her father. She was mentored by Junie Morrison of the Ohio Players and Parliament Funkadelic, where she honed her skills as a songwriter and producer.
Since going public at the 2002 Native American Music Awards, she has earned a reputation as a collaborator, performer, educator, and mentor across native North America and abroad. In early 2007, Redbone's Skintalk won the 6th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best R&B Album. Her 2012 work, The Garden of Love – Songs of William Blake, sets Blake's poetry to music that draws from rural influences of Appalachia: English folk, African American, and Native American traditions.
She tours nationally with The Martha Redbone Roots Project. The New York Times said her voice holds "both the taut determination of mountain music and the bite of American Indian singing."