Portraits from our Past
Southwest Virginia Music

The Carter Family

Music: 1920's - 1940's


Country music has much of its roots in the legendary Carter Family of Scott County, Virginia. The original group consisted of Alvin Pleasant Carter (A.P.) who played fiddle, sang bass, and wrote and collected songs. His wife, Sara Doughterty Carter, who played auto harp and sang alto lead, and Maybelle Addington Carter, sister-in-law of A.P. and Sara, on guitar and singing harmony. In 1927, the group recorded at the now famous "Bristol Sessions." The Carter Family's success came at the start of the Great Depression and they were unable to take advantage of these hits. In the 1930's, the Carter Family performed live on border station XERA in Del Rio, Texas which was so powerful it transmitted The Carters across the U.S. and into parts of Canada. Record sales surged and so did their popularity. Of the over 350 recordings produced by the original Carters, some of the standards included: "Keep On The Sunny Side," "Wildwood Flower," and "Single Girl, Married Girl." The song "Keep On The Sunny Side" was featured on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.



The Southwest Virginia Museum is a member of the American
Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Virginia Association of Museums.