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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Sallie Martin

Sallie Martin’s version of Willie Webb’s “(Jesus is the Answer) He’s All I Need” is authentic, homespun gospel music.

Last week we talked the Father of Gospel Music, Thomas Dorsey. But it’s clear that Dorsey – as brilliant a songwriter as who ever lived – would still be selling sheet music on the street corners of Chicago if not for Sallie Martin. Martin had an uncanny head for business, despite being born desperately poor and virtually uneducated in Georgia at the turn of the last century.

Once in Chicago, she met with repeated rejections from Dorsey, who didn’t like her plain, country-flavored voice. But Martin saw what Dorsey didn’t – that sheet music sales and proper promotion could elevate his original songs into a whole new genre of music. With Kenneth Martin, she founded Martin & Morris Publishing – which publicized the music across the country. And she founded the Sallie Martin Singers to take the music from New York to Chicago.

In the end, despite her ragged voice and sometimes testy disposition, the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses named her the “Mother” of gospel music. And everything you need to know is in this simple gospel song, “(Jesus is the Answer) He’s All I Need,” recorded for Capitol Records in 1949.

SHOUT 2248 Sallie Martin.mp3

MUSIC: “(Jesus is the Answer) He’s All I Need,” Sallie Martin, 45, Side 1

I’m Robert Darden … “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” is produced by KWBU, the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor University Libraries and is funded by generous support from the Prichard Foundation.