Admired Classic Country Songwriter Passes Away At 89

The Tennessean

After six decades in country music, songwriter Naomi Martin got the chance to work with some of the biggest names in the industry. Charley Pride, Ronnie Milsap, Jeannie C. Riley, and Conway Twitty are just a few of the many classic country legends that recorded Martin’s songs throughout her career.

Sadly, Martin passed away on Wednesday (May 31) following a long illness. Music Row broke the news, stating that the influential songwriter was 89 years old.

Martin moved with her family to Nashville in 1966, and instantly found a place for herself as a songwriter. After only 18 months, Martin had already seen two of her songs make their way on to the charts.

Riley was the one who helped Martin achieve her first major hit, when her 1971 recording of Martin’s song “Roses and Thorns” reached the 15th spot on the country chart. Martin scored her first number one hit five years later with “My Eyes Can Only See As Far As You,” which was recorded by Pride. Her second number one followed two years later, titled “Let’s Take the Long Way Around the World,” which was recorded by Milsap.

Martin’s success continued into the 1980s, when her songs were recorded by country icons such as Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, and Barbara Mandrell. She also wrote for some of the biggest country stars of the 1990s, including Lorrie Morgan, Glen Campbell, and Roy Clark.

In later years, Martin went on to form her own publishing company, called Naomi Martin Music Group. Through the group, Martin became the first to sign Blake Shelton to a publishing contract. She also helped him earn his first recording contract and was the executive producer during his early studio sessions.

Martin passed her love of songwriting on to two of her five children. Her daughter, Lisa Dale Yonts and her son, Marty Yonts, were both singer-songwriters.

A musical tribute to Martin will be hosted at the St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in Nashville prior to a celebration of life service on Thursday (June 8). The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to MusiCares or to the Opry Trust Fund.

You can remember the immense legacy that Martin left behind by listening to Pride sing her first-ever number one hit, “My Eyes Can Only See As Far As You.” Our thoughts and prayers go out to Martin’s family and loved ones during this sad time.