Janette Carter Biography

Joe (27 February 1927, Maces Springs, Virginia, USA, d. 2 March 2005, USA) and Janette Carter (b. 2 July 1923, Maces Springs, Virginia, USA, d. 22 January 2006, Kingsport, Tennessee, USA), are two of the three children born to Sara Carter and A.P. Carter. They naturally became involved in the Carter Family music at an early age and learned to play all instruments used in the family act. Like their aunt Maybelle Carter’s children, they began their careers by making regular appearances with the Carter Family on Border Radio at Del Rio, Texas, Janette in 1939 and her brother the following year. Janette also played on recordings made as the Carter Family at Del Rio in 1938/9 and in Chicago and New York in 1940/1. Sara and A.P. were divorced after several years of marital problems in 1939 but continued to work together with their children until 1943 when Sara (who had remarried) retired. In 1952, she was coaxed out of retirement and with Joe and Janette and her ex-husband once again began performing billed as the A.P. Carter Family. They mainly operated from A.P.’s. home, at Maces Springs, where he lived with his eldest daughter Gladys, that had an outdoor arena. Between January 1952 and April 1956, they recorded almost 100 sides for the Acme label, including two recordings made with Mrs. Jimmie Rodgers. The family unit finally ended in 1956.

In January 1966, Joe and Janette with their own autoharp and guitar backing, joined by Leroy Canter (fiddle/guitar), recorded some of the old Carter Family songs and some of their own for the County label. Many were retakes but the sessions resulted in an album, that demonstrated that they still had the genuine Carter Family feel for the Old Time music. Joe’s guitar playing has been likened to that of his aunt, Maybelle, and Janette’s playing of her mother’s old autoharp demonstrated that she had acquired her mother’s talent for the instrument. When Maybelle and Sara were persuaded to record together again in 1967, Joe Carter added bass vocals in the style of his late father and he also appeared with them at various folk festivals. In the late 60s, both Joe and Janette made a few solo recordings for J.E. Mainer’s Blue Jay label. During the 70s, Joe and Janette with sister Gladys began promoting shows which led to the formation of the Annual Carter Family Memorial Festival at Hiltons, Virginia. Joe died of cancer in 2005, and Janette the following year after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.