Linda Martell, The Black Grand Ole Opry Star Who Disappeared

By Emily Morenz
R&B and Country singer Linda Martell poses for a portrait circa 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In a genre dominated by white men, Linda Martell changed the course of history as one of the earliest black female country stars even while suffering the slings and arrows of racism. Martell brought a new style of emotion to country music with her big, soulful voice. Although she broke new ground as the first black female to perform at The Grand Ole Opry and released a few hits, she is considered a hidden gem who disappeared from the spotlight after an unnecessarily short career. Today Martell’s name is obscure even to some of the biggest country enthusiasts. The unsung hero deserves more recognition for her immense contributions and influence to the country world.