The Carter Family:

Will The Circle Be Unbroken

  • 2005 Regional Emmy Documentary/Historical
  • 2005 MidSouth Regional Emmy Lighting/Directing
  • 2005 Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival

In August 1927 three musicians arrived at a makeshift recording studio in Bristol, Tennessee, to audition for a talent scout from the Victor Talking Machine Company. The songs A.P. Carter, his wife Sara and her cousin Maybelle recorded that day drew upon the rich musical traditions of their native rural Appalachia. The Carter Family sang of love and loss, desperation and joy, and their music captured the attention of a nation entering the darkest days of the depression. In the coming years, with the release of songs such as Keep on the Sunnyside, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Wildwood Flower, Carter Family record sales exploded. Success, however, brought sorrow to the Carter's personal lives. As the demand for their music grew, A.P. Carter traveled across the Blue Ridge mountains seeking inspiration for new songs. During his long absences Sara fell in love with A.P.'s first cousin. Sara divorced A.P. in 1936, but the trio continued performing together until their eventual disbanding in 1943.

The production draws upon rarely seen photographs, memorabilia and archival footage to tell the bittersweet story of these influential musical pioneers whose songs and style laid the foundations for American folk, country and bluegrass music.

Aired on PBS’s flagship history series American Experience Official Web site