Janette Carter, the last surviving child of members of the original Carter Family, died at the age of 82 on January 22, 2006.

Carter died at Holston Valley Medical Centre in Kingsport, Tennessee, on the eve of the Australian premiere of the Johnny Cash-June Carter Cash movie Walk The Line.

Carter was tenacious about performing live despite fighting chronic illnesses including Parkinson's disease.

On the evening of her 82nd birthday in July 2005, she fell and hurt her shoulder and had to be taken to the emergency room.

The show at the Carter Fold, Virginia, went on without Carter until she was driven from the hospital to the Fold and was pushed onstage in a wheelchair, wearing a sling.

< Janette Carter

She led the musicians and the crowd in singing Will The Circle Be Unbroken, and told the audience, "I'm going to be all right. And you all come again … all of you."


Carter's parents, A.P. and Sara Carter and Maybelle Carter comprised The First Family of Country Music.

The Carter Family were country pioneers with songs such as Keep On The Sunny Side, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Wildwood Flower.

The music stood the test of time in the new millennium, three-quarters of a century after the original recordings.

Following the death of her father in 1960, Janette Carter dedicated her life to preserving not only the Carter Family music but the folk and country music of Appalachia.

On his deathbed, she said, her father "called me over and said 'Janette, I want you to continue the music the way we'd done it.'"

That included establishment of the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons.

The Carters' homestead has a museum and an 880-seat amphitheatre that draws more than 50,000 visitors each year with acoustic country and bluegrass music.

Ms. Carter led the 1976 drive to build the amphitheatre, called The Carter Fold - a major force in sustaining and promoting acoustic music in the Appalachian region.


The Fold is a theatre built on the side of Clinch Mountain, affording it a natural slant.

The auditorium was built from railroad sleepers and school bus seats.
When it rains, water runs off the mountain and down the aisles.

Until recently the bleachers were railroad sleepers with carpet samples stapled onto them.
The music policy is strictly traditional.

Janette's brother Joe came to the Fold every Saturday afternoon, several hours before showtime.

He'd stoke the wood stoves during the winter and sit off to the side in an airplane seat. Promptly at 7:30 p.m., Janette and Joe opened the show.

Joe had left home as soon as he could and joined the Navy during the last years of the war.

He lived in California and East Tennessee before returning to Hiltons.

The family's stock was pretty low at the time of A.P.'s death in 1960.

The semi-annual checks from Ralph Peer were down to around $100, but the Kingston Trio had just recorded Worried Man Blues and Joan Baez would soon introduce the Carter Family's music to an entirely new audience.

A.P. seemed to know that his time would come again.

"He was very particular about the type of gravestone that he wanted," Janette said, "because he said that people would come from long distances to see his grave, and he said, 'I want it to be unique.' "


"She drank of the original cup and she is now the foundation that sustains us as our spirit grows thirsty in a sea of musical conformity," wrote Marty Stuart in a letter supporting Janette Carter's National Endowment for the Arts honour.

Stuart was the third husband of Cyndi Cash - one of Johnny Cash's four daughters.
Dixie Hall, who serves on the Carter Fold board of directors, said, "It was Janette's dedication that founded the Fold.

Janette and Joe worked to turn a little grocery store into a performance hall.

"At the beginning, she might only take in a few dollars a week, and she'd worry about how she was going to pay the artists who came to play: It was always shared and always shared honestly. Her example will surely be missed. This is a great loss."

Marty Stuart

Her parents and her father's sister-in-law Maybelle Carter formed a singing trio discovered in 1927 when talent scout Ralph Peer came through the Tennessee-Virginia border town of Bristol to record mountain music.

Maybelle Carter, the other member of the original Carter Family, was married to A.P.

Carter's brother, Ezra. Maybelle and Ezra Carter had three daughters - Helen, Anita and June (Carter Cash) - all now deceased.

Helen died at 70 on June 2, 1998 and Anita at 66 on July 29, 1999.
June Carter Cash died at 73 at 5.04 p m on May 15, 2003.


Her husband Johnny died four months later at 71 on September 15.

The man in black was the father of four daughters with first wife Vivien Liberto with whom he lived in Memphis before marrying June and siring a son John Carter Cash.

The daughters are Tara, Kathy, Rosanne and Cindy.
Janette Carter made records with her mother and father in the 1950s.

After that, she recorded sporadically, though a 31-song compilation on Bear Family Records in 2004 is testament to her powers as a singer.

< Johnny Cash

She also sang and played autoharp on Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family album for Dualtone.

John Carter Cash was the producer.

Janette also recorded The Last of Their Kind (Dualtone) with brother Joe, who died on March 2, 2005 of pancreatic cancer.

Married three times, Joe had a son who predeceased him and three daughters.


In early 2005, Ms. Carter travelled to Los Angeles to receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for the Carter Family.

At the ceremony, she told a roomful of music industry power players about the family: "There's a lot of them gone, and there's still quite a few of us left up there in Poor Valley, trying to preserve the music."

Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Ramone, Jimmy Page and others stood to applaud her efforts.
"It's good for younger people to know this kind of music," Janette Carter said in a 2002 Associated Press story.

"There was a time when music told a story; it wasn't just some beat."

Carter's daughter, Rita Forrester, will keep the Fold in operation, continuing her mother's ambitions for the land and for the music.

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