Carter, Country Singer, Is Dead at 66
Anita Carter, a member of country music's pioneering Carter Family
and a star in her own right, died in her home in Goodlettsville,
Tenn., near Nashville, on Thursday. She was 66.
The cause was not yet known, Lou Robin, her manager, told the
Associated Press. Ms. Carter had rheumatoid arthritis for the last few
Ms. Carter was one of three daughters of Ezra and Maybelle Carter,
who formed the country singing group the Carter Family along with her
cousin, Sara, and A.P. Carter (Sara's husband and Ezra's brother).
In 1927 the Carter Family drove from their Virginia mountain home to
Tennessee and during the next 16 years recorded some 250 songs, one
of the most important and influential bodies of work in country and folk
As a child, Anita (born Ina Anita Carter in Maces Springs, Va.) hated to
be separated from her mother when the Carter Family left to perform at
radio stations, so she was brought along. When she was 4, she made her
radio debut with a singsong child's rhyme. The performance was such a
success that soon she and her sisters were regularly singing with the
Carter Family on Texas station XERA, a powerful radio broadcast set
up mainly so that a quack doctor could advertise his unusual remedies for
When the Carter Family split up in 1943, Maybelle and her three
daughters -- June, Helen and Anita -- formed Mother Maybelle and the
Carter Singers, performing such Carter Family standards as "Wildwood
Flower," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Keep on the Sunny Side."
In the late '40s, Chet Atkins played guitar with them before establishing
himself in Nashville. In the '50s and early '60s, the group joined the
Grand Ole Opry and performed on bills with Elvis Presley and Johnny
Cash, recording the hit "Busted" with Cash. Presley was said to have had
an unrequited crush on Anita.
An accomplished stand-up bassist with a beautiful soprano voice, Anita
Carter also appeared on television shows like "The Kate Smith Evening
Hour," where she could be seen singing with (and being wooed by) Hank
Williams in one of the legendary country singer's few television
appearances. Her sister June married Cash in 1968 after the family
helped bring him back to stability after a period of drug abuse.
Anita Carter's first significant work away from her family was the 1951
single "Bluebird," a duet with Hank Snow that topped the country charts
along with its B-side, "Down the Trail of Achin' Hearts." She also sang
with another group on the side, a trio called 'Nita, Rita and Ruby. In
'60s, she recorded a hit duet with Waylon Jennings, "I Got on You," and
recorded singles and albums for labels RCA, United Artists and, in the
'70s, Capitol. She also appeared on records by Merle Haggard, Porter
Wagoner and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, who renamed themselves the
Carter Family after A.P. died in 1960, broke up officially in 1969, though
they continued to record together until near the time of Maybelle's death
in 1978. Anita's sister Helen died last summer, and June recently released
an intimate, homemade solo album, "Press On."
In addition to June Carter Cash, of Hendersonville, Tenn., Ms. Carter is
survived by a daughter, Lorrie Bennett, and a son, Jay, both of