Janette Carter, the last surviving member of legendary country music institution the Carter Family, died yesterday of Parkinson’s disease and other health complications at the age of eighty-two.
Carter’s parents, A.P. and Sara Carter, founded the Carter Family as a trio in 1926, along with A.P.’s sister-in-law Maybelle. (Maybelle’s daughter, June, wife of Johnny Cash, became one of the better-known Family members.) The family became one of country music’s first stars and recorded more than three hundred folk songs (songs in the public domain), which later became known as Carter songs.
Janette Carter had upheld the traditional country repertoire of her family — along with the country and folk music of Appalachia — through weekly performances, even in recent years, and was an accomplished autoharp player. In September, Carter was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with the Bess Lomax Hawes Award, which recognized her effort to preserve and perform Appalachian music.