The original Carter Family – A.P. and Sara Carter, and her cousin (and his sister-in-law) Maybelle Carter have been called “the first family of country music.” They recorded hundreds of songs in the 1920s–40s and Maybelle’s innovative style of guitar playing was enormously influential.
If you haven’t heard of them, you’ve almost certainly heard of Johnny Cash, who married Maybelle’s daughter June. Here are some other fun facts about the Carter Family and their music:
- Posters promoting Carter Family concerts featured the charming tagline, “the program is morally good.”
- Their concerts may indeed have been morally good, but there were plenty of juicy goings-on behind the scenes!
- The Carter Family back story includes the almost unbelievable tale of one Dr. Brinkley, purveyor of goat glands to a large and willing audience. No kidding!
- Maybelle Carter’s pioneering style, now known as the Carter scratch, changed acoustic guitar playing forever.
- Carter family descendants still run the Carter Family Fold in the location of the original homestead, featuring concerts and festivals year-round.
If you have any interest in early country or “hillbilly” music, we’d love to share the music of the Carter Family with you in an upcoming class offered by Parkland College Community Education. We will play and sing lots of their songs, and also talk about their history, why they were so popular, and why their music still endures today.
Mondays, September 14-October 5, 7 to 8:30pm, $45. Sign up by calling Community Education at 217/353-2055.
Feature image: Carter Family, the, Photograph, from Britannica Online for Kids, accessed August 28, 2015, http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-107922.