Joyce. Jonathan. Judy. They are the Martins. The group has performed at places such as the Dove Awards, Carnegie Hall, and even the White House, but “our favorite thing is to appear in churches and tell about Jesus,” said Joyce Martin Sanders, the “firstborn” of the three. “There’s something really special about a congregation of people who walk in the doors, sit down, and pay attention to what you say.”
The three siblings come from humble beginnings. For more than three years of their childhood, they lived in a farm home with no electricity or running water with their parents, J.W. and Wilma, in Extra, Arkansas, in the same house where their father was born and raised. Today, they have received eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association and earned a Grammy nomination.
Their home may not have had power, but their spirits did, and their house was full of music. Their mother sang and taught them church songs and family harmony. They often performed at the little country church they attended while Mom played the piano. By age 12, Joyce was writing songs and also playing the piano.
I caught up with her earlier this week as the group was on the way to tape an episode of Larry’s Country Diner which airs on RFD TV.
The three are parents of a dozen kids, ranging in age from 9 to their early 20’s, and they all live in different states. Joyce lives in Nashville with her husband Paul, and she has two children. Jonathan lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and their six children, including twin boys. And Judy lives in Columbus, Georgia, with her husband Jake Hess Jr. (son of gospel legend Jake Hess) and their four children. “We have lots of frequent flier miles,” she added.
The Martins perform around 100-125 dates per year. This is a change from their previous schedule of 250 dates