Carter, A. P.
- Charles K. Wolfe
Carter, A. P. (15 December 1891–07 November 1960), and Sara Carter (21 July 1898–08 January 1979), musicians and songwriters, were the founding members of the early country music singing group the Carter Family. A. P. Carter was born Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter near the Appalachian hamlet of Maces Spring, Scott County, Virginia, the son of Robert C. Carter and Mollie Arvelle Bays, both local farmers whose families had been in the region since the late eighteenth century. As a youth, A. P. was exposed to music by both sides of his family. His father had been a well-known local banjo player who later turned to sacred music; his mother’s family included an uncle, Flanders Bays, who taught rural singing schools for area churches; and his mother was a repository of old ballads, both those brought over from Great Britain and newer ones derived from Native American sources. By 1913 A. P. was singing bass in a local church choir and had learned to play both the guitar and fiddle—the latter in a light-bowed, skirling style associated with older Scotch styles. A restless and curious young man, A. P. traveled to Indiana in around 1910–1911, worked on a railroad crew near Richmond, Virginia, for a time, and eventually returned home, suffering from typhoid fever. His schooling consisted of sporadic attendance at local country schools in the Poor Valley. By 1915 he was trying to make a living selling fruit trees to area residents....