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Wed, 06.18.1884

Sara Martin, Blues Singer born

Sara Martin (with Sylvester Weaver)

*Sara Martin was born on this date in 1884.  She was a Black blues singer.  

She was born Sara Dunn in Louisville, Kentucky.  She was the daughter of William T. Dunn and Mary Katherine "Katie' Pope and was singing on the Black vaudeville circuit by 1915.  She was married three times, the first marriage to Christopher Wooden when she was 16. Christopher Wooden died in 1901. Her second marriage was to Abe Burton. At the time of her death she was married to Hayes Buford Withers.  

She began a successful recording career when she was signed by Okeh Records in 1922.  Through the 1920s she toured and recorded with such performers as Fats WallerClarence WilliamsKing Oliver, and Sylvester Weaver.  She was among the most recorded of the classic blues singers.  "Martin tended to use more swinging, danceable rhythms than some of her peers. When she sang a traditional blues her voice and styling had richer, deeper qualities that matched the content in sensitivity and mood: "Mean Tight Mama" and "Death Sting Me" approach an apex of blues singing".

Martin's stage work in the late 1920s took her to New York, Detroit, and Pittsburgh and to Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.  She made one film appearance, in Hello Bill, with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, in 1929.  Her last major stage appearance was in Darktown Scandals Reviewin 1930.  She performed with Thomas A. Dorsey as a gospel singer in 1932, after which she worked outside the music industry, running a nursing home in Louisville.  

In her time Martin was one of the most popular of the classic blues singers. She was billed as "The Famous Moanin' Mama" and "The Colored Sophie Tucker". She made many recordings, including a few under the names Margaret Johnson and Sally Roberts.  Sara Martin died in Louisville of a stroke May 24, 1955.   

To Become a Musician or Singer


All About Blues

Tony Russell (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.

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