Martin was taught to play the guitar at an early age. He later gained an interest in songwriting, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in his early 20s. He performed daily in a nightclub, and was eventually spotted by Joe Carter, an artist manager who had previously worked with Tracy Byrd. Carter saw potential in the young artist and he was soon signed to Sony Epic Record Label.
Martin was signed to Epic Records in 2000. His debut single, "Before I Knew Better", was released in 2002, the first single from his debut album Wings of a Honky-Tonk Angel. The album received a favorable review from About.com for its neotraditionalist sound. In addition, "Before I Knew Better" won an award from BMI for being among the fifty most played country songs of 2003. However, the second single from Wings of a Honky-Tonk Angel, "Rub Me The Right Way", failed to make Top 40, as did "Just Like Love". A non-album single, "One of Those Days", followed in 2003 before Martin exited Epic's roster. He remained inactive in country music until joining songwriter John Ramey to found the duo Martin Ramey in 2008. Martin Ramey signed to Curb Records that year.