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A. P. Carter's Geni Profile

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Alvin Pleasant Delaney "A. P." Carter

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert C. Carter and Mollie Arvell Arvell Carter
Ex-husband of Sara Elizabeth Carter
Father of Janette Carter; Joe D. Carter and <private> Carter
Brother of Ezra J. Carter

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About A. P. Carter

Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter (December 15, 1891 – November 7, 1960), best known as A.P. Carter, was an American musician and founding member of The Carter Family, one of the most notable acts in the history of country music.


A.P. Carter was born to Robert C. Carter and Mollie Arvelle Bays in Maces Spring, Virginia (then known as Poor Valley). A.P. was sometimes called "Doc."

On June 18, 1915, he married Sara Dougherty and they had three children: Gladys (Millard), Janette (Jett), and Joe. In 1927, he formed the Carter Family band together with his wife. They were joined by Sara's cousin, Maybelle, who was married to A.P.'s brother, Ezra Carter, and they together formed the first commercial rural country music group. Carter was known for traveling extensively throughout the country and collecting and blending songs, particularly from Appalachian musicians. Some of the songs became so closely identified with A. P. Carter that he has been popularly, but mistakenly, credited with writing them. For example, "Keep on the Sunny Side of Life" was published in 1901 with the words being credited to Ada Blenkhorn and the music credited to Howard Entwisle, and "The Meeting in the Air" has been published giving credit for music and words to I. G. Martin.

A.P. and Sara separated in 1932, in part as a result of Sara having an affair with A.P.'s cousin, due to A.P.'s long absences from home in search of new musical ideas. They officially divorced in 1939. The band remained together for several years afterwards, but broke up in 1943. While Maybelle and her daughters continued to tour as The Carter Family, A.P. left the music business to run a general store in Virginia. In 1952, A.P. reformed The Carter Family with Sara and some of their grown children; the reunion lasted until 1956.

A.P. Carter died in Kingsport, Tennessee on November 7, 1960 at the age of 68. He was buried in the Mount Vernon Methodist Church Cemetery in Hiltons, Virginia.


Despite dying in relative obscurity, A. P. Carter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Carter was inducted as part of The Carter Family in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970. In 1993, his image appeared on a U.S. postage stamp honoring the Carter Family. In 2001 he was inducted posthumously into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.

PBS aired a one-hour show on A.P. Carter and the Carter Family on American Experience.

In recent years, The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia has performed a play based on A.P.'s life called "Keep On The Sunny Side".

On her 2008 album All I Intended to Be, Emmylou Harris includes the song "How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower", co-written with Kate and Anna McGarrigle, about the relationship between A.P. and Sara, inspired by a documentary that the three of them saw on television.

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A. P. Carter's Timeline

December 15, 1891
July 2, 1923
Age 31
Maces Spring, Scott, Virginia, USA
February 27, 1927
Age 35
November 7, 1960
Age 68