Pat Martin passes 

Patricia Martin, the former CEO of Turquoise Records and Executive Director of NAIRD, passed away on Wednesday morning, September 25, 2019. 

Born on January 2, 1955, in Whitesburg, Kentucky, Martin worked at Appalshop and later was the founder/owner of Turquoise Records. Among the artists that recorded for the label are Special Consensus, The New Coon Creek Girls, Southern Rail, Gary Ferguson, High Country (from California), Bluegrass Patriots, No Strings Attached (from Virginia), the fiddler Glen Duncan, Judy Marshall, Radio Flyer, Sidesaddle, and the Andy Rau Band. Her home-town-based label was in operation for about 10 years from 1986 to 1995.  

She was Executive Director of the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (later Association for Independent Music (AFIM)).  

Martin was a significant presence in the formative years of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), attending the first public open meeting of IBMA, hosted on October 1985, going on to be an officer of the organization in the early years. “Pat had a valuable corporate and educational presence at early IBMA Business Conferences,” Nancy Cardwell remembers, “thanks to Pat’s leadership and expertise in the area of music sales and distribution.”

Doug Hutchens recalls that she was the Vice-President of the IBMA during that time also. 

Martin’s work in this regard was recognized in such national publications as Rolling Stone and Billboard magazine. 

Later she became the Executive Director of the Mountain Arts Center, a performing arts venue in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. 

While it is thought that she didn’t play a musical instrument herself, Martin was enterprising from an early age. At the age of 15 she began making and selling potholders in the mountains of east Kentucky. 

In subsequent years Pat Martin worked as an independent consultant assisting non-profit organizations and small businesses in areas such as business management, strategic planning, fundraising, workshops, training seminars, and event creation and implementation. 

She served as an adviser for the Kentucky Arts Council Kentucky Peer Advisory Network (KPAN), and as associate vice president and director of arts and culture outreach at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, where she settled in 2003. 

Additionally, Martin served as a director, or officer, on the following boards: Somerset’s Watershed Arts Alliance, the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman, KY, the Kentucky Humanities Council, the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center, Arts Kentucky, the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce, and many more. 

Until her retirement in 2015, she worked for the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED). Cheryl Meadows, SKED Communications Director, shared these thoughts, “SKED was blessed to have Pat as a member of our team for four years. During that time, she worked with many entrepreneurs in developing their business dreams and working through their struggles. She approached her job, as Small Business Training Specialist, as more of a mission than a job. Her impact on Southeast Kentucky will be felt for years following her death.”

Her drive and personality made an invaluable contribution in so many areas of life and work, and her words and deeds were always dedicated to the service of others. 

Nothing sums up the impact that Pat Martin has had on the region better than the Hal Rogers Difference Maker Award, presented to her in 2015 by U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05). 

In November 2014 Martin was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

Typical of her nature she turned this personal misfortune into a positive event, driving her to learn about the disease and to spread knowledge of it as far and as wide as she could. 

Pat Martin requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church, or to the ALS Association Kentucky chapter

Visitation and the service took place yesterday Sunday, September 2019.

There will be a memorial service in Somerset, Kentucky, at a later date.

R.I.P., Pat Martin 

Bluegrass Today gives appreciative thanks to Doug Hutchens for his considerable help in the composition of this obituary. Thanks are due to Nancy Cardwell also. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.