The Carter Family: A History of the First Family of Country Music
Country music would sound way different, if it existed at all, without the original Carter Family trio. Numerous books, academic articles and documentary films explain how powerhouse vocalist Sara, her song-collecting husband A.P. and multi-instrumentalist cousin Maybelle pioneered not just country music but also folk, bluegrass and other genres that sound at home in the mountains of Virginia.
Inspiration and interpretation continued beyond that first generation of folk artists-turned-commercial radio and recording stars, however: Children of Carters began their careers in their parents' bands before embarking on their own creative paths and, though marriage, branching the family tree further into various popular interpretations of roots music.
The following list mostly follows how June Carter's marriage to Johnny Cash weaved future Americana and throwback country tastemakers into the family circle as spouses, siblings or step- or half-siblings. Other talents tied to June's two singing sisters get mentions as well, but they pale in comparison to the cross-genre influence of the Carter-Cash children and in-laws.
Collaborators ranging from fellow "Bristol Sessions" alum Jimmie Rodgers to Maybelle & the Carter Sisters guitarist Chet Atkins could easily be added to this or any list as honorary kinfolk. The problem is, where would a list including non-family contributors and friends end? Hank Williams? The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band? Rick Rubin?
The Carter Family: A Brief Family Tree