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Musical History

In 1927 Ralph Peer, representing the Victor Talking Machine Company, came to Bristol to find and record local talent performing old-time Appalachian Mountain music. Peer found several groups that impressed him enough to invite them into the studio, but only one of the groups would turn the music world upside down — the Carter Family.


Joe and Janette Carter

A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and his sister-in-law, Maybelle performed mountain songs they had written, as well as some that A.P. had discovered while visiting the hills and “hollers” of the Appalachian region. Their style was simple, soulful, and unique. Sara’s clear strong voice placed the music in your soul while Maybelle’s pickin’ on songs such as Wildwood Flower transformed the guitar from a rhythm instrument into a lead instrument. The events of 1927 and the Carter Family resulted in the birth of what we now call “Country Music”.

The original Carter Family were musical giants although they did not know it. Years later, A.P.’s children — Janette and Joe — created the Carter Fold in their hometown of Hiltons, Virginia. The purpose of the Fold was to keep Jeanette’s promise to her father and keep the family’s music alive. The Carter Family Fold opened its doors in 1979 and has been going strong ever since.

Although Jeanette has since passed away, her daughter Rita is carrying on the musical and performing legacy of the Carter Family. The Carter Family Fold is now run by the non-profit Carter Music Center, devoted to promoting old-time music and paying tribute to the original Carter Family.