There’s been a lot of chatter in recent years about the rising frequency of spiritual songs in country music. Big hits like “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “When I Get Where I’m Going” have given country radio a Christian feel, but such sentiments in country music are nothing new. Country artists have been singing about God for generations, but it was a recently divorced singer named Martha Carson who brought the country gospel song to the masses back in the 1950s.
Martha had been singing in various country groups such as the Coon Creek Girls when she started turning toward more spiritual material. She formed the Dixie Sweethearts with her husband James, and spent the late forties touring and recording country-flavored gospel numbers. The family-friendly image of their act, however, was quickly becoming a facade.