From Publishers Weekly
The Carter Family, Virginia mountain musicians who composed, performed and recorded hundreds of folk songs beginning in 1927, finally get their due in documentary filmmaker Zwonitzer's comprehensive biography. To say that the Carters, who inspired such legends as Chet Atkins, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, had a profound impact on popular American music is an understatement. Zwonitzer follows the Carter family's history from the 1891 birth of A.P. Carter, the musical founder, up through the late 1970s, offering background on the social, economic and technological developments that spawned American folk, country and rock music. The Carter family got its official start when A.P. dragged his wife, Sara, and his pregnant sister-in-law Maybelle to Bristol, Tenn., to sing for a record company scout. The Carters' performance with A.P. singing bass, Sara and Maybelle singing harmony, and Maybelle on guitar earned them a recording contract and a legendary career that spanned three generations. Family and friends reminisce about the forbidden love affair that broke up the Original Carters; Hank Williams's attempt to shoot June Carter; how June and Maybelle Carter sustained June's husband, Johnny Cash, through his drug addiction; and other colorful episodes from the Carters' lives. Zwonitzer writes with flair, weaving anecdotes into a compelling study that will intrigue historians and music lovers alike.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
With an eye for biographical detail and just the right helping of the vernacular, documentary filmmaker Zwonitzer and Hirshberg, the author of biographies of Elvis Presley and the Beatles, tell the historically important and fascinating story of the Carter family and their music. From the original 1927 recordings of A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter, through the 1940s and 1950s tours of "Mother" Maybelle and her daughters, to the marriage of June Carter and Johnny Cash, the history of this family of country musicians and their legacy unfolds through well-written prose. Highlights of the book include a chapter on the importance of the Original Carter Family's broadcasts on the titanic Mexico/U.S. border radio station XERA and the authors' material on the roots of some of the songs found, reworked, and newly composed by A.P. Carter songs that link modern country music to the traditional folk music of the 19th century. This is not, however, a thorough study of the individual songs themselves. Through the many anecdotes and quotations, garnered from interviews with surviving family members and from study of previously published material, the Carters and their associates come across as real people perhaps the book's greatest contribution. Highly recommended for all public libraries and for academic libraries with a focus on American vernacular music. James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.