The Martins

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For the film starring Lee Evans, see The Martins (film)
The Martins
Origin Arkansas
Genres Inspirational, southern gospel, contemporary Christian
Occupation(s) Singers
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1990–present
Labels Spring Hill
Associated acts Michael English, Bill Gaither, Mark Lowry[1]
Members Joyce Martin Sanders
Jonathan Martin
Judy Martin Hess
Past members Paul Lancaster[2]

The Martins are a Christian music vocal trio composed of three siblings: Joyce Martin Sanders, Jonathan Martin, and Judy Martin Hess.

Music career[edit]

Discovered by Michael English and Mark Lowery with Bill Gaither at the 1987 National Quartet Convention mid-day booth cleanup. The kids, then ages 15, 16 and 17 were singing accapella in an empty Civic Center after being rejected by a local record company who told them to go back home and forget about trying to make it in "the business." Following a weekend visit to their home town by Mr. Howard, they signed with Mark Five Records who launched their first album release in 1990, "With Love From Arkansas", produced by Eddie Howard, which quickly ran up the gospel charts. In 1990 A second album release sealed their position in Gospel Music and the contract was sold to Springhill Records that would take them to an all new level of marketing. Originally from Hamburg, Arkansas, near the Louisiana border in Ashley County,[3] the vocalists grew up firmly and proudly planted in the Southern gospel tradition, so it is not surprising that, as they have matured, a broad range of influences have entered their musical mix. Billboard magazine describes The Martins as "breaking down walls and blurring the lines that separate Southern gospel from inspirational, adult contemporary, and other popular Christian music formats." Rather than resting in a single niche among the numerous Christian music genres, the Martins have rummaged freely through a stack of style books, grabbing whatever interests them. Sometimes the different elements are unaltered and traditional, but more often they are tossed into the trio's musical blender so that a new mixture emerges. The result has been labeled simply as Martin Music. Their portfolio of songs includes every musical palate, ranging from innovative and refashioned hymn arrangements to contemporary songs of praise and worship. While their eclectic style draws from a variety of musical genres, the Martins are often framed and presented as a cultural phenomenon rooted in the rural U.S. south, specifically in Arkansas.[3]

The Martins’ "big break" came in 1992 when Michael English and Mark Lowry insisted that Gloria Gaither listen to the group audition in the women's restroom prior to a Gaither Homecoming video recording in Indiana. Gloria told Bill that he had to let them sing in the video.[4] They have gone on to appear in over two dozen Homecoming videos. The group has also recorded over a dozen albums.

In 2002, Jonathan left the group in order to spend more time with his family. Joyce and Judy then enlisted the help of Paul Lancaster, formerly with Mullins & Co., and The Nelons. Together they recorded Above It All.[2] Between 2003 and 2010, they were somewhat inactive as a group in order to spend more time with their own families, although they did reunite for concerts periodically. During this time, the three each recorded a solo album.

They often appear on the Gaither Homecoming concert tours, as well as in limited trio appearances.

Personal lives[edit]

Joyce Martin Sanders (b. January 6, 1968) lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband Paul, and she has two children.[5]

Jonathan Martin (b. May 19, 1970) lives in Clive, Iowa with his wife Dara Makohoniuk-Martin and their youngest three of six children, including twin boys, one of which has cerebral palsy.[4]

Judy Martin Hess (b. May 3, 1971) lives in Columbus, Georgia with her husband Jake Hess Jr. and their four children.[4]



  • 1994: The Martins (Chordant)
  • 1995: Live In His Presence (Chordant)
  • 1996: An A Cappella Hymns Collection (Spring Hill)
  • 1996: Wherever You Are (Spring Hill)
  • 1997: Light Of The World (Spring Hill)
  • 1998: Dream Big (Spring Hill)
  • 2000: Windows (Spring Hill)
  • 2001: Glorify Edify Testify (Spring Hill)
  • 2003: Above It All (Spring Hill)
  • 2011: New Day (Spring Hill, GGS)
  • 2014: A Cappella (Spring Hill, GGS)
  • 2018: ‘’Still Standing” (Gaither Music Group)


  • 2005: Decade (Spring Hill)
  • 2011: The Best of The Martins (GGS)

Solo albums[edit]

Joyce Martin Sanders[edit]

  • 2004: Diamonds on a Dusty Road

Jonathan Martin[edit]

  • 2003: Enjoy the Journey
  • 2006: With One Voice

Judy Martin Hess[edit]

  • 2005: Color Me


  • 1992: The Martins: Live VHS (The Mark Five Company)
  • 1996: An Evening With The Martins VHS (Spring Hill)
  • 1997: Light Of The World VHS (Spring Hill)
  • 2011: The Best Of The Martins DVD (Gaither Gospel Series; Spring Hill)


Dove Awards:

  • 1996
    • Southern Gospel Album of the Year: The Martins
    • Southern Gospel Song of the Year: "Out of His Great Love"
  • 1997
    • Southern Gospel Album of the Year: Wherever You Are
    • Southern Gospel Song of the Year: "Only God Knows"
  • 1998
    • Southern Gospel Album of the Year: Light Of The World
  • 1999
    • Country Recorded Song of the Year: "Count Your Blessings"
  • 2004
    • Inspirational Album of the Year: Above it All
    • Southern Gospel Song of the Year: "The Promise"

Grammy Award nomination:

  • 1998
    • Best Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, or Bluegrass Album of the Year: Light Of The World

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Martins History". 
  2. ^ a b "Above It All". SoGospelNews. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Douglas Harrison, "'From Arkansas With Love': Evangelical Crisis Management and (White) Southern Gospel Music," Southern Spaces, 29 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Interview with The Martins". Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Lockwood, Frank. "Martins to sing at church anniversary". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. Retrieved 2 November 2011.