The patriarch of America's first family of country music, Alvin Pleasant "A.P." Delaney Carter led the Carter Family from 1926 to the group's breakup in 1943. A collector of hundreds of folksongs from Britain as well as the Appalachian Mountains, Carter adapted those songs into his own originals and wrote many country classics, including "Wabash Cannonball," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "Keep on the Sunny Side," "Foggy Mountain Top," "Worried Man Blues," "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," and "Wildwood Flower." Born in the Clinch Mountains of Virginia in 1891, Carter played fiddle from an early age, learned songs from his parents, and sang with two uncles and a sister in a gospel quartet. At the age of 20, Carter met Sara Dougherty while selling fruit trees and writing songs in his spare time. They married several years later and began playing around the region. Maybelle Carter, Carter's sister-in-law, joined the group as well just before their audition for Victor Records in 1927. The recordings went well and Victor released three records that quickly became hits. Signed to a long contract, the Carter Family became a popular act by the end of the '20s, though the Depression hurt their fortunes, as fewer Americans bought records. Though Carter and Sara separated in 1932, the Carter Family continued recording during the '30s, for ARC and Decca, as well as Victor. Carter and Sara finally divorced in 1939 and Sara officially retired from the group four years later. While Maybelle toured with her three daughters, Carter ran a country store in Virginia until 1952, when he re-formed the Carter Family with Sara and several of their grown children. They recorded over the course of the next four years, but disbanded in 1956. Carter died in 1960.
A.P. Carter Biography
by John Bush