Linda Martell



Country Music Gets Soul: Linda Martell is first black female to sing at Grand Ole Opry (Ebony, 1970)

Before the advent of Bobbie Gentry and her Ode To Billie Joe, country music — like rhythm and blues — was “special music” enjoyed by a somewhat limited, dedicated group of fans. Few of those fans were black. Country music experts, however, feel that it is natural that blacks would enjoy success singing country and western. Says Shelby Singleton, who records Linda on the Plantation label: “Rhythm and blues and country music are the most parallel types of music.” It’s the working people who make up the listeners for both.” And Charley Pride has said: “Country music, the blues and my people’s spirituals are the only true American music.” It has been a very happy “musical marriage” for Linda, who, by all standards in the business, has far exceeded expectations for so short a time. Singleton observes: “Based on reactions to her first two records, she’s gonna be a big country and Western star.”

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