James Roberts

b. 10 February 1918, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, USA. The mandolin-playing son of legendary fiddle player Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, he first sang on recordings with his father and Asa Martin at the…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

b. 10 February 1918, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, USA. The mandolin-playing son of legendary fiddle player Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, he first sang on recordings with his father and Asa Martin at the age of 10 and continued to work with Martin until, in 1937, tiring of the music, he joined the navy. He later returned to performing and while working at WLAP Louisville, on Martin's Morning Roundup, he met Martha Carson (b. Irene Ethel Amburgey, 19 May 1921, Neon, Kentucky, USA, d. 16 December 2004, Nashville, Tennessee, USA). They married, and singing as a duo, played various stations, including WHIS Bluefield, The Renfro Valley Barn Dance and in 1940, WSB Atlanta where, specializing in country gospel material and using the stage name of James And Martha Carson, the Barn Dance Sweethearts, they became a very popular act. In 1950, they moved to WNOX Knoxville's Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round. Between 1946 and 1950, they recorded 30 sides, initially with just their own guitar and mandolin accompaniment, but on the latter, backing vocals and hand-clapping were added. Their 1947 recordings of "The Sweetest Gift' and Roberts" self-penned "Man Of Galilee" are very highly rated.

In 1951, the couple divorced and Roberts moved to WWVA Wheeling where he worked with Wilma Lee And Stoney Cooper and also led the station staff band, the Country Harmony Boys. Between 1952 and 1960, he returned to Knoxville. He recorded with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and the Masters Family and also, at times, played as a studio musician. He eventually retired to Lexington, but continued to make some personal appearances, usually of an evangelical nature. In 1985 Roberts was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.