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Asa Martin Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0115 SAA 115

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of photographs, print articles, clippings, discography, and reel-to-reel audio recordings documenting the career of old-time Kentucky singer and guitar player, Asa Martin.

Listen To / View Audio / Video Recordings

Audio material includes taped copies of his commercial recordings from the 20s and 30s and original recordings of 1970's era radio programs featuring Martin and his band, the Cumberland Rangers that were broadcast by WIRV in Irvine, Kentucky.

Also included in the collection are several audio recorded interviews with Martin documenting various aspects of his career including commercial recording, vaudeville, and radio performing activity in the 1920s, 1930s, and especially his association with other rural Kentucky musicians including Madison County fiddler Doc Roberts, comedian-banjoist David "Stringbean" Akeman, the Amburgey Sisters, and Roy "Shorty" Hobbs.


  • created: 1920-1979


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of this material other than federal copyright regulations. Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.


14.00 ms_boxes

Language of Materials



Asa Martin was born 1900 in Clark County, Kentucky where he grew up hearing music at home and at various traveling shows. He tried his hand as an entertainer, first singing on small vaudeville shows and eventually on commercial recordings and radio with Madison County, Kentucky fiddler, Doc Roberts.

On their recordings for Gennett and other labels, he played guitar with Roberts and performed a varied repertoire of songs that included parodies, traditional ballads, and current popular songs.He also sang duets with Doc Roberts' son, James.

Around 1935, Martin set out on his own, forming a band that at various times was heard on several Kentucky radio stations including WHAS in Louisville, WLAP in Lexington, and WCMI in Ashland.

At the onset of World War II, Martin left performing for factory work in Ohio, returning to live in Kentucky only after retirement in 1965.

He was soon drawn into the 1960s folk revival resulting in reunion appearances with Doc and James Roberts. The Cumberland Rangers, the old time music band Martin formed on his return to Kentucky consisted of Jim Gaskin, Grady "Buz" Brazeale, Gilbert Thomas, and Earl Barnes.

They were heard regularly during the 1970s on Irvine, Kentucky's WIRV. They also performed at a wide variety of public venues locally and nationally including one of the Smithsonian Folk Festivals. In 1974 they recorded an old time music album, Dr. Ginger Blue for Rounder Records. Asa Martin died August 15, 1979.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by:

(1) Biography and Photographs

(2) Recordings – primarily in open reel format, a small number in cassette tape format

Other Descriptive Information

BCA 0115 SAA 115

Processing Information

The finding aid was created in July 2015; updated in February 2016. Links to digital recordings added 2019.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US