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Dove Award, Grammy nominated
The Martins to perform in BV
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From the Nov. 3, 2021 issue
of The Journal

By Richard Harris
   The smooth, rich sounds of multi-Dove Award winning and multi-Grammy nominated trio The Martins will be featured in Buena Vista at the Moon Family Theatre on Saturday, November 13 at 7 p.m. 
   The trio has enjoyed countless radio hits and performances on stages at such prestigious locations as The Grand Ole Opry and The White House, as well as concert halls, auditoriums, and churches nationwide. During the 1990s, The Martins rose to national and international success, showcasing their stunning and distinctive harmonies before a vast array of audiences, from Bill Gaither's multi-award winning Homecoming Video and Concert Series to the White House to Carnegie Hall. Over the years the trio garnered eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association, three Grammy nominations, and multiple hit songs. 
   Siblings Judy, Jonathan, and Joyce Martin grew up in rural Hamburg, Arkansas.

However, one member of the trio, Judy Martin Hess, has a strong connection to Marion County. Not only does she know many Marion Countians – she was once one of them. She and her husband, Jake Hess, Jr., lived in the Juniper Community for a long time and their children – Jake III, Hannah, Emma – all attended local schools for several years.
   In fact, as successful as The Martins have been, it's possible that their son is just as well-known locally. Jake III was a member of the group that won the Quartet State Championship for Marion County High in 2013 (along with Jordan Moses, Skyler McAllister, and Luke McMurry).
   "Buena Vista is near and dear to my heart," said Judy. "It was my home and it played a major role in my kids' lives. I'm excited to come back and see the people there who are still just pouring themselves into the community."
   While living here, she came to know Lynn Moon McAllister, founder of Moon Family Theatre and the Performance Academy. McAllister had formed the academy originally as an extra-curricular program for MCHS when the Hess Family was living here.
   "All of our kids went to Lynn's Performance Academy," said Judy. "I've kept in touch with her and I was extremely excited when she reformed the academy and opened Moon Family Theatre. I've been to a couple of shows. … I remember when she first started, I remember how important it was for the kids and how she has such a talent for teaching young people, helping them understand their abilities and use them and gain confidence. I saw the camaraderie among the students and their focus and energy in the productions. It was huge for me as a parent."
   Now, she's excited to be performing at the new Moon Family Theatre with her fellow members of The Martins, who after nearly a decade of pursuing individual music careers, reunited in 2010 and released their first new recording in 10 years, New Day, produced by Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts).
   When asked why they "got the band back together," she said the honest answer is, "We all got kind of hungry. We realized the best way for us to make a living for our families was to do it together."
   However, while necessity played a part, there is another big reason why it works and why it is fulfilling.
   "We all have stories that we feel are important to tell," she said. "We have overcome difficulties and we can see what God has done in our lives. We still have a story to tell and we want the word of our testimony to make a difference in other people's lives like it has in ours."
   Their reunion has also been well-received by audiences and critics alike.
   In 2014, The Martins joined renown arranger, Lari Goss and long-time friends and producers, Michael English, David Phelps, and Matthew Holt to record a new a cappella hymns project. The recording, simply titled A Cappella was released in May of 2014, and features The Martins' unmatched and unmistakable family harmony. The recording earned the group a Grammy nomination for Best Roots Gospel Album, as well as the Dove Award nomination for Inspirational Album of the Year from the Gospel Music Association.
   The Martins returned to the recording studio to produce their latest recording. Still Standing, released in July 2018 under the Gaither Music Group label, has afforded even more success for the popular trio. This recording, which received the 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Roots Gospel Album, finds the vocal group standing stronger than ever, showcasing their benchmark family blends and intricate arrangements produced by renowned producer Gordon Mote. These compositions reflect the latest chapters in siblings Judy, Joyce and Jonathan's journeys as they share messages of God's goodness and providential hand at work in every season.
   Judy says when they first started singing way back when as kids, she never dreamed they would have come so far.
   "Our Mom started teaching us when we were very young," she recalls. "For us it was just something to do on the weekends. We'd sing at our church and other churches. I think we fell in love with singing, watching others sing, encouraging others and being encouraged by others."
   By the time they were teenagers, they began to realize that it could be their professional calling. Before they knew it, they were being home-schooled and singing on the road – performing around 230 days per year.
   What should people expect at their show on November 13?
   "We have a lot of fun with each other and with the crowd," said Judy. "We keep it real, so you'll hear part of our story, including struggles, but you'll be encouraged by it. We dip into the ugly part, but you'll leave encouraged, knowing that God has a plan and purpose for you."
  Join The Martins as they share their trademark harmonies  at the Moon Family Theatre on Saturday, November 13 at 7 p.m. Complete information is available by  visiting www.moonfamilytheatre.com  or  www.martinsonline.com.