Gospel singing siblings refuse to be silenced by coronavirus

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A gospel music trio with ties to Columbus has been singing their hearts out for over four decades. They call themselves the Martins. Joyce Martin Sanders, Jonathan Martin, and Judy Martin Hess are a vocal group from Arkansas. They burst onto the gospel music scene in the early 1990’s thanks to Bill and Gloria Gaither.

The Martins have been nominated for a Grammy Award several times and they’re multiple winners
of the Gospel Album of the Year award.

The Martins take social distancing to a whole new level. Jonathan Martin lives in Iowa. Joyce Sanders resides in Nashville. Judy lives in Columbus with her husband, Jake Hess, Jr. They have four children. Judy is usually on the road at singing engagements several days a week.

But all that stopped about two months ago when COVID-19 hit.

“It was scary, we said okay let’s just go to our homes, “says Hess, “let’s take care of our families, listen to what’s going on and kind of get our bearings.”

The coronavirus crisis has forced the Martins to cancel or postpone over 20 concerts. They know their fans can still access their music on a variety of platforms, but what the Martins are missing is what they receive from their fans.

“At the end of a concert and we talk to people, that’s when they encourage us by saying what you’re doing has blessed my life, and that’s our encouragement to keep going,” says Hess.

Over the past several weeks Judy and her siblings have been doing a lot of brainstorming, trying to figure out how to stay connected with their fans. They recently held a Zoom party. They have also used a popular app to produce a synchronized recording of one of their songs without ever leaving home.

Then they put it on Facebook. “It’s a song called ‘The Promise’ and it’s probably one of our most requested songs,” says Hess. “It takes our eyes off of what we think we need and it reminds us of what God knows that we need. It’s a timeless song, but it is extremely perfect for the time we’re going through right now.”

The Martins travel across the country to sing. They have a concert scheduled for September 26 in Bremen, Ga., which is about an hour-and-a-half north of Columbus.

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