The youngest daughter of Mother Maybelle, Anita Carter (1933-99) pursued a long and fruitful career, both as a second generation Carter Family member, and as a solo artist and songwriter. From childhood she was part of the Carter Family, both in its original incarnation and as part of the reconstituted version called Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters (and later as "The Carter Family"). Starting in the 1950s, she recorded as a solo singer and as a duet partner for the likes Hank Snow and other established country stars, and later moved into material that was more in line with the contemporary folk scene of the 1960s and '70s. Here's a quick look at her work...
Anita Carter "Appalachian Angel" (Bear Family, 2004)
Wow. This massive 7-CD set covers all aspects of her career and while it's probably for diehard fans only, it is an amazing document of a likeable but little-known artist. Completists will rejoice to find such a comprehensive set, while the just-curious among us might want to try out the more modest single-disc options first...
Anita Carter "Ring Of Fire" (Bear Family, 1994)
This single-CD set focusses on Carter's solo work, combining two folk-oriented albums that came out in the early '60s on the Mercury label... It includes her 1962 recording of the classic, "Ring Of Fire," which was the original version of a song that later became a huge hit for Johnny Cash. (The Cash rendition also featured Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters singing backup...) Generally speaking, these albums hew to the folkier side of things, packed with traditional tunes such as "Fair And Tender Ladies," "Bury Me Beneath The Willow Tree" and "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye." Although Mercury was hoping to tap into the folk boom of the early 'Sixties, the first album didn't do well commerically and as a consequence they felt freer to go a little more country on the second album. It's a little more fun, though, honestly, both albums seem a little stuffy to me. It'd be nice if Bear Family (or somebody here in the States) could also come up with a single-disc collection of Anita Carter's more country-sounding material as well, but this folkie-oriented album will certainly be of interest to fans.
Anita Carter "Songbird" (Omni, 2009)
The sweetest voice and the prettiest face of the fabled Carter Family, Anita Carter performed with the family band from early childhood on... Although she is best known as part of the trio that backed Mother Maybelle, and as a member of Johnny Cash's 1970s roadshow, Anita also recorded a modest amount of solo material -- not much, but enough to show that she was a major musical talent. Had the mellow, folk-tinged countrypolitan sound of the '70s come a decade earlier, she might have been a major star. As it was she became a welcome fixture in the Nashville scene, and her handful of records are still cherished by a select group of fans. This long-overdue retrospective set features the best of her solo recordings, including rarities such as single-only releases and even some previously unreleased studio work. It's a real treat for old-time fans, and a great introduction for younger listeners in search of lost country gold.
Anita Carter & Hank Snow "Together Again" (RCA Victor, 1962)
Anita Carter "Anita Carter Sings Folk Songs Old & New" (Mercury, 1963)
Anita & Helen Carter "Anita And Helen Carter" (Mercury, 1964)
Anita Carter "So Much Love" (Capitol, 1972)
A fairly florid country-folk outing by this second-generation Carter Family member... She made her move into modern times with reasonable aplomb, though: the opening track, a lush, moody version of Linda Hargrove's "How To Be A Woman," has an almost Joni Mitchell-like density to it. Overall this is pretty slushy, but fans of the Carters, and of countrypolitan folk may want to check this disc out.
Anita Carter/Rita Robbins/Ruby Wright "Rock Love" (Bear Family, 1985)
A collection of Anita Carter's rock/pop collaborations of the later 1950s, with the Rita, Nita & Ruby trio, alongside the daughters of Marty Robbins and Kitty Wells. This material is also included as part of the Appallachian Angel box set listed above.
Anita Carter "Yesterday" (House Of Cash, 1995)
Hick Music Index