During the 1950s, Martha Carson's rock & roll-flavored gospel tunes had a strong influence on her country peers, most notably Elvis Presley. She was also one of the first country artists to deliberately seek and find popularity on the pop charts. Carson was born Irene Amburgey in Neon, KY. She and her two sisters were spotted by radio barn-dance impresario John Lair and invited to join the cast of the WSB Barn Dance in Atlanta in 1938. The Amburgey sisters were given the fanciful hayseed names of Minnie, Marthie, and Mattie, and after Irene Amburgey left the group and teamed with her husband, mandolin player James Carson, in the 40s, the stage name stuck and she became Martha Carson. The duo performed (with Martha on guitar) as the Barn Dance Sweethearts. By the time of their divorce in 1950, Martha had begun making solo appearances on Knoxville's WNOX radio. Unfortunately, she couldn't record because the Barn Dance Sweethearts' label, Capitol, had them contracted through 1957 and refused to let her go solo, instead trying to pair her up with other male singers. She began doing session work instead, appearing on the Carlisles' "Too Old to Cut the Mustard" and other recordings by that group of unrelated performers headed by WNOX stalwart Bill Carlisle.