'Female Elvis' Honored With Highway Marker in Danville

Danville, VA - One of the top female artists of the 1950's happened to call Southside Virginia home. Janis Martin got her start as a young teen performing weekly on a national radio show for WRVA. Soon, she was performing on American Bandstand and winning Billboard awards as an RCA recording artist. Martin's husband Wayne Whitt has fond memories of her time in the spotlight. "I was the bag boy. I carried the luggage," Whitt said. Martin came back home in the 70's to work at the Danville Golf Club. But Whitt says she continued to perform around the world, delighting fans with the biggest hit of her career, "Drugstore Rock n' Roll". "She was fantastic. She could play that guitar. She could run lead and bass on the same guitar," Whitt said. Members of the golf club's board first learned of the state's desire to honor Janis with a highway marker in 2010. This week, the Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources unveiled the marker just a short distance from the club. "We were very excited because there were many of us that had known Janice for many years. She was very much a people person, she enjoyed life, and she enjoyed her music," Whitt said. Janis lost a short battle with cancer in 2007 but her husband says his wife, who wore many hats, lived a full life that left an impact on the world. "When she'd hit that stage, she was wide open. She'd say, 'the love the give me, I try to give back to them,' and she really did do it," Whitt said. Janis Martin is also a member of the Rockabilly hall of fame. Her last CD, "The Blanco Sessions" can be found online.