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Anita Carter is best known for singing with Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, a family band of early country music.
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Anita Carter was a singer and member of the famed Carter family of country music.
Musician. Ina Anita Carter was born March 31, 1933 into one of country music's most famous families. Anita Carter's mother, Maybelle, was a member of the legendary Carter Family trio, which consisted of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and his sister-in-law Maybelle. The family became one of the most influential acts in country music in the 1920s and 1930s, helping to define the sound of the modern genre. Following a breakdown in the marriage of A.P. and Sara Carter, the original trio split up in 1943. Maybelle Carter, determined to keep the family in the music business, joined her three daughters — Helen, June and Anita, the youngest — in a new act called Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. Later in her life, Anita would joke that despite performing for the first time at the age of four, she didn't actually get paid until she was six.
Mother Maybelle Carter was a talented musician who played the guitar, banjo and autoharp, inspiring her children to learn multiple instruments themselves. At the age of ten, Anita Carter began playing the stand-up bass and singing soprano with Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, primarily performing on the radio from their hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The mother-daughter quartet would continue to perform together on and off for the next five decades.
Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, Anita Carter continued to play and sing alongside her family as well as pursuing her own solo career. While most girls her age were getting ready for the sock hop, Carter was recording chart-topping duets with the likes of Hank Snow and Hank Williams. In 1950, the Carters became a permanent fixture in Nashville, performing regularly on the Grand Ole Opry alongside greats like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Known for her pretty voice as well as her pretty face, Anita Carter had plenty of male admirers, even among country music legends. One Presley biographer claims she held the King's affections, as he sought to impress her on stage when the Carters toured with him in 1956 and 1957.
Grand Ole Opry gossip notwithstanding, Anita Carter's voice was her true signature. As her sister June Carter Cash once said, "My sister had the greatest voice of anybody in this town, absolutely the prettiest voice." Anita's ethereal soprano lent itself quickly to a budding solo career that took off in the early 1960s. Along with logging plenty of studio time recording albums, Anita joined Johnny Cash's troupe, appearing regularly on tour and on his television show. Meanwhile, she found time to churn out a handful of top-charting hits, among them, "I'm Gonna Leave You" and a duet with Waylon Jennings called "I Got You," which reached the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Country chart.
Along with the more popular country-western tracks she recorded, Carter also cut two more folk-centered albums in the sixties. Most famously, on Folk Songs Old and New (1963), she recorded a song called "(Love's) Ring of Fire," co-written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore.
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