Author: Kip Lornell


Sara Carter (1898–1979)

Sara Carter was a member of the Carter Family, a trio that helped to pioneer what became known as country music. Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, Sara Dougherty sang and played the autoharp from an early age. In 1915, she married the salesman A. P. Carter, who sang bass and collected and arranged songs. With Maybelle Carter—Sara Carter’s first cousin and the wife of A. P. Carter’s brother—the couple formed the Carter Family, recording for the first time at the Bristol Sessions of 1927. The group made nearly 300 records in a career that lasted until the early 1940s, and for several years they performed on ultrahigh-frequency border radio. These broadcasts could be heard across North America and helped make the group nationally famous. With the Carter Family’s success, Sara Carter’s marriage became strained. In 1933 she and A. P. Carter separated; three years later they divorced but continued to perform together. In 1941, she remarried and the next year moved to California, leaving her three children in Virginia with A. P. Carter. Sara Carter spent the rest of her life in California, reuniting briefly with her former husband in the 1950s to perform with two of their children. In 1966 she recorded an album with Maybelle Carter. Sara Carter died in 1979 and was buried near her first husband in Virginia.

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