From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Martin, Sara [Dunn]

(born: 1884  -  died: 1955) 

Born Sara Dunn in Louisville, KY, she began singing in church. At the age of 16 she was married and widowed. Sara took her second husband's last name, Martin. She began as a vaudeville singer in 1915 and later became the highest paid blues singer of the 1920s. She lived for a while in Chicago, then moved to New York. Martin sang with the W. C. Handy Band, sometimes billed as "Moanin' Mama" and sometimes performing under other names. Her first recording was Sugar Blues. She appeared on film with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and in 1930 appeared in the first all African American sound films, Darktown Scandals Revue [produced with The Exile]. Martin returned to Kentucky where she was a gospel singer; she also operated a nursing home in Louisville. For more see All Music Guide to the Blues. The experts' guide to the best blues recordings, ed. by M. Erlewine, et al.; The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by C. Larkin; and Classic Jazz, by S. Yanow. View image and listen to Sara Martin & Her Jug Band - I'm Gonna Be a Lovin' Old Soul on YouTube.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Sugar blues (song)
NKAA Source: Darktown scandals revue (film)
NKAA Source: All music guide to the blues. The experts' guide to the best blues recordings
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of popular music 3rd ed.
NKAA Source: Classic jazz

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Martin, Sara [Dunn],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 18:36:56