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The Carter Family
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    Born in Maces Spring, Virginia
    A.P. (Alvin Pleasant) Carter (December 15, 1891-November 7, 1960), harmony vocals
    Sara Carter (July 21, 1898-January 8, 1979; birth name was Sara Dougherty), lead vocals and autoharp
    Maybelle Carter (May 10, 1909-October 23, 1978; birth name was Maybelle Addington), guitar and harmony vocals
    Sara was A.P.'s wife
    Maybelle was Sara's first cousin and was married to A.P.'s brother Ezra
    Maybelle was mother of June Carter Cash
    Notable songs include 'Can the Circle Be Unbroken,' 'Wildwood Flower,' 'Keep on the Sunny Side,' 'Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone,' 'Little Darling, Pal of Mine,' 'Single Girl, Married Girl,' and 'The Church in the Wildwood'
    Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1970)
    Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2005)
    Known as 'the First Family of Country Music'
    They were so secretive about their personal lives, that at the height of their fame, many fans had no idea how the Carters were related to each other.
    A.P. claimed copyrights on numerous songs that were either public domain tunes that he rearranged or songs that he bought from their original authors.
    During A.P.'s many absences on song collecting trips, Sara fell in love with his cousin, Coy Bayes.
    Although the affair ended when the Bayes family moved to California, Sara and A.P. separated and for several years would meet only during recording sessions and concerts.
    They became a featured act on XERA, a Mexican border station owned by quack doc John R. Brinkley.
    During an XERA show, Sara dedicated a song to Coy Bayes, who came to Texas and married her. A few years later, they moved out together to California, breaking up the act.
    They and fellow country legend Jimmie Rodgers were discovered at the same time in Bristol, Tennessee, at an event called the 'Big Bang' of modern country music.
    Maybelle's playing style, known as the 'thumb brush' or 'Carter scratch,' was described as having 'influenced the guitar's shift from rhythm to lead instrument.'
    Dozens of the songs that they popularized became country, bluegrass and folk standards.
    A biographer said of their music's popularity during the Depression, 'I really think they cut down into their recordings the sense that country people had that somehow out in the middle of nowhere they were forgotten and didn't quite matter. And I think what the Carters' appeal was that they really spoke to those folks.'
    After the group folded, Maybelle and her daughters became a staple of the Grand Ole Opry and, after June Carter became June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash's concerts.

Credit: C. Fishel

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