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The Carter Family

“And then we decided one day, A.P. had been to Bristol, so he found a man that wanted us to come up and make a record. So we went up to Bristol and we made our first record on the second day of August, 19 and 27. And it's been going ever since.”
– "Mother" Maybelle Carter

+ Transcript

- [Narrator] A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and his sister-in-law Maybelle were the original group. A.P. died, Sara moved to California, but Mother Maybelle, as she's affectionately called, continues the Carter Family tradition with her daughters and grandchildren in Nashville. ♪ Oh, I'll twine with my mingles and waving black hair ♪ ♪ With the roses so red and the lilies so fair ♪ ♪ And the myrtle so bright with the emerald dew ♪ ♪ The pale amanita and eyes look like blue ♪ ♪ I will dance, I will sing and my life shall be gay ♪ ♪ I will charm every heart, in his crown I will sway ♪ ♪ When I woke from my dreaming, my idols were clay ♪ ♪ All portion of love had all flown away ♪ ♪ Oh he taught me to love him and call me his flower ♪ ♪ That was blooming to cheer him through life's dreary hour ♪ ♪ Oh, I long to see him and regret the dark hour ♪ ♪ He's gone and neglected this pale wildwood flower ♪

- [Narrator] Maybelle Carter remembers how it all began.

- Well, my family, all of my immediate family at home, there were 10 of us in the family, and several of us played instruments, my brother played banjo, my mother played banjo, and then had another brother played guitar, and I used to play banjo, but finally I got a guitar, and I started playing the guitar when I was 13 years old. And then A.P. Carter came over across the mountain, and he met my cousin, Sara Carter, and so they were married, I was about six years old then, when they got married. Later on of course, I met A.P's brother and we were married in March the 13th 19 and 26. And then we decided one day, A.P. had been to Bristol, so he found a man that wanted us to come up and make a record. So we went up to Bristol and we made our first record on the second day of August, 19 and 27. And it's been going ever since.

- Mother always says that she can't quit working because she's afraid that the rest of us will just quit, and the Carter Family will be done, you know, as far as performing. But we're trying to bring our children into the act, and I think it would be nice, when we're not able to go any longer, if our children did carry on the tradition of the Carter Family, because I hope it's something that will never die, I know it will never die in my heart, because it's been my life since I was four years old, I've been singing. And I worked two years for nothing, I didn't get paid till I was six, and then I think I got about a quarter or something, every so often. ♪ I was standing by my window, ♪ ♪ On one cold and cloudy day ♪ ♪ When I saw the hearse come rolling ♪ ♪ For to carry my mother away ♪ ♪ Will the circle be unbroken ♪ ♪ By and by, Lord, by and by ♪

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