Maybelle Carter may have been the best-known and best-loved mother in all of country music.
Maybelle Carter (1909 – 1978) may have been the best-known and best-loved mother in all of country music. For the matriarch of the Carter Family, motherhood was such a crucial part of her identity that she was known as Mother Maybelle. And indeed, she helped found a country music dynasty—daughters June, Helen, and Anita, and son-in-law Johnny Cash—that’s still revered among the very greatest of the Grand Ole Opry.
Maybelle Carter was, of course, more than just the mother of country music superstars. She had a formidable talent of her own, which she passed down to her children. Today, we take a look at some classic clips and marvel at Maybelle Carter’s skill as a guitarist and autoharpist.
“Keep on the Sunny Side” with the Carter Sisters. Here, you can see her unique style of guitar playing—known as “scratch picking” or “Carter Family picking”—she plays the melody with her thumb and uses her index finger to play the rhythm.
“Black Mountain Rag” live on the Johnny Cash Show. Maybelle Carter was an artist with the autoharp, a favorite instrument of folk and bluegrass acts.
And a great classic, the Carter Family playing “Wildwood Flower.”