Nicknamed “Mother” Maybelle Carter was a well-known country music performer from the late 1920s through the 1950s. She was the one who made the Carter Family of southwestern Virginia into the “First Family of Country Music”. She first performed with her cousin and brother-in-law as a trio and then with her three daughters, Helen, Anita, and June. Perhaps some of this might ring some bells with country music fans. It was her daughter June Carter who later met and married Johnny Cash.
Maybelle and other members of her family learned to play instruments and to sing in harmony. They began with traditional mountain folk songs. In 1926 the family answered an ad that requested local musicians come and be recorded in Bristol, Tennessee for the Victor Talking Machine Corporation. These music sessions, later on, became known as “The Bristol Sessions”. They launched the country music career of the Carter Family and of another country music singer Jimmie Rodgers. Some of the songs which the Carter Family recorded included “Wildwood Flower” and “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” which is still a popular song today.
These sessions got the Carter Family their first regular live radio program which influences future generations of country and rock and roll stars among them Maybelle’s then-future son-in-law Johnny Cash. In 1943 Maybelle and her daughters became known as “Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters” They became country music legends and continued to perform and record for the following 35 years until Maybelle Carter died on October 23, 1978. There are lots of interesting recordings that can still be heard on YouTube. One of them is the Carter Family performing with Johnny Cash who was now married to June Carter.