The Carter Family are widely considered to be the first superstars of Country music and Folk Music.
In the 1920s, A.P. Carter was a tree salesman from Mace Springs, Virginia; in his spare time he wrote songs. Carter, along with other members of his family had musical talent and occasionally would play at church and other private gatherings, but it was only a hobby.
That changed in 1927, when A.P (on bass and vocals), his wife, Sara (on autoharp) and his sister-in-law (and Sara's cousin), Maybelle (on guitar); who had first performed together as a trio in December 1925, travelled to Bristol, Tennessee to record for Ralph Peer on the Victor Label.
The Carters recorded six songs during their session with Peer and were given $300 for doing so, eventually two 78 rpms, featuring the songs were released and did quite well. Peer, surprised by their success called them back for another recording session in Camden, New Jersey, where they would record several more songs including the classics "Wildwood Flower", ""Can the Circle be Unbroken?", and "Keep on the Sunny Side of Life". By 1930, they had almost 700,000 copies of their recorded music sold. Their recorded music struck a cord with audiences suffering through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which was one of the reasons they were so popular.
A.P. spent his spare time, traveling collecting new folk and gospel tunes for the group to sing, being away so often and so long took a toll on his marriage to Sara. Sara had fallen in love with one of A.P's cousins, Coy Bays and soon filed for divorce. Despite, their personal troubles the couple continued to perform together professionally.
In 1938, The Carter Family, moved to Del Rio, Texas made regular appearances on Dr. John Romulus Brinkley's XERA, one of the first "Border Blaster" stations broadcasting to the United States from Mexico. It was about that time that Sara dedicated a song to Coy Bays, who was living in California, heard it, went to Texas, and married Sara. Also, Maybelle's three daughters, Helen, Anita, and June began singing with the family as well. This phase of their career ended in 1941 when Dr. Brinkley's license was revoked and the station was shut down.
In 1942, the original Carter Family found work on a radio station Charlotte, North Carolina on a sunrise show which aired from 5:15 to 6:15 in the morning and called it a day, the following year.
Maybelle continued on with her daughters, for several more years and died in 1978. Sara moved to California to be with her husband and died in 1979. A.P became a shopkeeper, but most of his money came from music royalties, he died in 1960.