In August 1927 three musicians arrived at a makeshift recording studio in Bristol, Tennessee, to audition for a talent scout from the Victor Talking Machine Company. The songs A.P. Carter, his wife Sara and her cousin Maybelle recorded that day drew upon the rich musical traditions of their native rural Appalachia. The Carter Family sang of love and loss, desperation and joy, and their music captured the attention of a nation entering the darkest days of The Depression. In the coming years, with the release of songs such as Keep on the Sunnyside, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Wildwood Flower, Carter Family record sales exploded. Success, however, brought sorrow to the Carter’s personal lives. As the demand for their music grew, A.P. Carter traveled across the Blue Ridge mountains seeking inspiration for new songs. During his long absences Sara fell in love with A.P.’s first cousin. Sara divorced A.P. in 1936, but the trio continued performing together until their eventual disbanding in 1943.
You can also watch the incredible pocket documentary in the second video below entitled “To Hear Your Banjo Play”. PBS also produced the documentary “The Carter Family: Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. Visit PBS’s link here.