Legacy of Martin and Morris
Martin (1896-1988) was born in Pittfield, Georgia. She
sang in Churches in Georgia, then moved to Chicago where
she met Thomas A. Dorsey. She
joined his trio in 1932. She organized a music store for Dorsey
and kept the records and accounting, making his business
of selling his songs become profitable.
Morris was born in New York City and studied piano in his
school years. Kenneth entered the Manhattan Conservatory
of Music after graduating from high school and formed a
jazz band. When the band was playing at the 1934
Chicago World's Fair, he became ill will tuberculosis and
had to leave the band. He stayed on in Chicago to recuperate.
took a job as a music transcriber in Chicago, and
maintained that position until 1940, when he and Sallie
Martin joined forces to create a publishing company called
Martin and Morris Music, Inc.
addition to co-founding the Chicago publishing company
with Kenneth, Sallie also formed the Sallie
Martin Singers during the same year.
publishing business thrived, with Sallie's keen business sense
and Kenneth's songwriting talent. One of his his
best-known songs is Dig a
Little Deeper in God's Love, published by Martin and
Morris in 1947. Just a Closer Walk with Thee was
also published by the company. Kenneth had heard a
railroad porter singing the song at a station stop on a
trip between Kansas City and Chicago. After resuming the
journey, he began realizing the potential of the song, so
he stepped off the train at another station, took a train
back to the station where he had heard the porter singing
the song, wrote down the words and music, added some words
of his own, then published this great song.
1945, sheet-music sales was in the six digits, and Martin and
Morris became the major publisher of black gospel music,
publishing the music of the gospel movement into the