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The Carter Family

Although The CARTER FAMILY were firmly lodged as one of folk’s earliest pioneers, most music aficionados would most certainly believe they belong alongside country music’s greatest achievers; the term “country music” was invented long after the group’s inception.
Formed in and around Maces Spring, Virginia, in 1926, the all-singing outfit could be traced back to June 18, 1915, when fiddler Alvin Pleasant (A.P.) Delaney Carter and Sara Dougherty (banjo, guitar & autoharp) married; the latter’s cousin Maybelle Addington joined The CARTER FAMILY (aged 18) after she wed A.P.’s brother Ezra.
On August 1, 1927, all three members of the unit (along with their offspring), travelled to Bristol, Tennessee; A.P (also known as “Doc”) was now 36, his wife seven years his junior. Signed to RCA Victor Records soon afterwards, choice songs included `Keep On The Sunny Side’, `Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow’, `The Storms Are On The Ocean’, `Wildwood Flower’ & `Little Log Cabin By The Sea’; all of these available to hear on 16-track CD: ANCHORED IN LOVE: THEIR COMPLETE VICTOR RECORDINGS (1927-1928) (1993) {*9}, while `The Foggy Mountain Top’, `The Grave On The Green Hillside’, `Engine 43’, `The Homestead On The Farm’ and the title track one will find on MY CLINCH MOUNTAIN HOME: THEIR COMPLETE VICTOR RECORDINGS 1928-1929 (1993) {*9}.
In 1932, estranged A.P. relocated to Detroit having separated from Sara; she would later marry Coy Bayes in 1939. Still maintaining a professional arrangement, The CARTER FAMILY recordings came thick and fast through ARC, Decca and Columbia respectively, while there was also material in the can alongside JIMMIE RODGERS. The family’s offspring (including June Carter, soon-to-be wife of JOHNNY CASH) carried on the C&W tradition after the group split into a few factions by 1943 – Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters (Helen, Anita and June) were one such act, until they all went solo in the 50s. The A.P. CARTER FAMILY (with Sara back in the fold plus brood Joe and Janette) recorded over a ton of songs for Acme Records between ’52-’56; sadly A.P. died in Nashville in 1960. Subsequent exploitation releases came on to the market, while there was room for a reunited Sara and Maybelle (who’d just delivered AN HISTORIC REUNION {*7} at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival); the latter had released A Living Legend {*5} (for Columbia) the previous year. In 1970, both were present to receive their entry into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sadly, the years took their toll on both Maybelle and Sara; the former died in Nashville on October 23, 1978, the latter soon afterwards in Lodi, California on January 8, 1979.
(c) MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS 2013

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