The Martin Sisters from Wrigley began their love for music at an early age. Their parents were Mr. Jim and Mrs. Ella Pate. She was lovingly known by her children and grandchildren as “Mart.” Mr. Jim was a foreman at a wood yard for many years. He was loved by so many, and his great personality would light up a room when he entered. He always had a way of bringing laughter into a room. As a small child, I remember that he always smoked a cigar while at the Commissary in Wrigley, while talking to the men who waited while their wives shopped.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin had two sons- Buddy and JT- and three daughters- Anna Laura, Bertie Pate, and Marie (the youngest)- all very talented. Marie never had music lessons but learned play many instruments, all on her own, and she was best known for playing the piano “by ear.” Bertie Pate inherited her dad’s personality, and Anna Laura had talent as a seamstress, and made all of their singing clothes (identical). She especially loved to sew the shiny buttons on the dresses.
The Martin Sisters began entertaining at a very early age. They sang on a radio program called The Wally Fowler Hour at the Ryman Auditorium, on The Red Foley Show, and with Henry Regan and the Dickson Rangers All Night Singings. They sang many times on WDKN in Dickson and WHLP in Centerville.
Doug Bates, their friend from Centerville, spoke at each of the girls’ funeral. His fond memory was as a small child, hearing Angelic singing coming from the open windows of Wrigley United Methodist Church as he played under a tree. He says that singing actually converted him to be a Christian. They played at church services, community benefits, and many other events. Sometimes they didn’t take their music seriously, but Mr. Jim would say, “Now settle down Marie and play it right.” They sang many old songs but they loved the old gospel hymns the best. Some of their favorites songs were Oh How I Love Jesus, Heaven Will Surely Be Worth it All, and I’ll Fly Away, and they actually wrote a song titled Too Far Out on My Journey. In later years, Senator Johnny Crow gave them credit for helping him win election as they traveled with him, playing and singing on the back of a flatbed truck.