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The Carter Family’s Music, Legacy Honored in New Documentary

New soundtrack arrives mid-October, with George Jones, Sheryl Crow, John Prine covering Carter Family songs

The Carter Family

The Carter Family is the subject of a new, award-winning documentary.

GAB Archive/Redferns

As the first family of country music, the Carter Family remains one of the genre’s most influential acts of all time. Hailing from Maces Springs, Virginia, in the foothills of the Appalachians, the Carters — led by A.P. Carter and rounded out by his wife, Sara, and sister-in-law Maybelle — became world-famous for their simple folk melodies, close family harmony and Maybelle’s hugely influential guitar playing. 

Documentary filmmaker Beth Harrington traces the group’s evolution in her award-winning festival favorite, The Winding Stream: The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music, which includes one of the final appearance of the late Johnny Cash — who, as husband of June Carter Cash and son-in-law of “Mother” Maybelle, occupies his own branch of the Carter family tree — as well as studio performances by George Jones, Sheryl Crow and others. On October 16th, Omnivore Recordings will release the soundtrack to the documentary, which will spotlight songs from the original Carter Family as well as tracks by John Prine, Rosanne Cash, the Nitty Gitty Dirt Band (with Kris Kristofferson), Carolina Chocolate Drops and more. John Carter Cash, the only biological child of Johnny Cash and June Carter, contributed photos from his personal archives to the recording project, which also features liner notes penned by Harrington.

“The story of the Carter Family is one about gleaning the best of American roots music and passing it on,” Harrington says in a statement. “That’s what the Carters did with their song collecting and writing and that’s what happened with their music down through the generations of family music-makers as well as other musicians. This soundtrack to the film is in that tradition, highlighting the work of the Carters themselves as well as a variety of family and friends interpreting that music.”

The film, from Argot Pictures, will be in theaters this fall, after spending more than a year on the festival circuit. Select cities will feature local artists performing Carter Family songs.

The Winding Stream: The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music tracklist is:

1. “Bear Creek Blues,” John Prine
2. “Lord, I’m in Your Care,” Grey Delisle and Murry Hammond
3. “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree,” The Original Carter Family
4. “Single Girl, Married Girl,” The Original Carter Family
5. “Worried Man Blues,” George Jones
6. “Hello Stranger,” Carolina Chocolate Drops
7. “Keep on the Sunny Side,” The Original Carter Family
8. “Cannon Ball Blues,” The Original Carter Family
9. “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” The Original Carter Family
10. “Wildwood Flower,” Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters
11. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Johnny Cash and the Carter Sisters
12. “In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain,” Murry Hammond
13. “Sweet Fern,” Maybelle and Sara Carter
14. “Gold Watch and Chain,” The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band With Kris Kristofferson 
15. “Step Light Ladies,” Home Folks, Joe Carter and John McCutcheon
16. “The Winding Stream,” Rosanne Cash

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