If you know anything about the history of America’s country music industry, you know the Carter Family were instrumental in launching it. In Ken Burns’ 2019 documentary epic Country Music, he laid out just how important the Carters were in the beginning—and how influential they remain today.
The group’s original lineup consisted of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara and their cousin Maybelle. They recorded mostly between 1927 and 1956. Maybelle became particularly well-known for her distinctive guitar-playing style, called “the Carter scratch,” but she also played the autoharp later on, including during her time with The Carter Sisters, which was the second iteration of the Carter Family featuring Maybelle and her daughters June Carter Cash, Helen and Anita. On this day (April 21) in 1963, Maybelle treated a Los Angeles crowd to 15 songs at the legendary folk room Ash Grove, which hosted everyone from Joan Baez to Doc Watson during the folk revival of the 1960s. Maybelle even plays the banjo during this set. Get your dose of country music history and listen to this legend with the stage all to herself.
Listen to the 1963 set below via the Paste archives.