Anita Carter

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Anita Carter
Anita Carter
Anita Carter
Background information
Birth nameIna Anita Carter
Born(1933-03-31)March 31, 1933[1]
Maces Spring, Virginia, US
DiedJuly 29, 1999(1999-07-29) (aged 66)[1]
Hendersonville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genrescountry, folk
InstrumentsBass, 12-string guitar, vocals
LabelsRCA Victor, Cadence, Columbia, Audiograph, United Artists, Liberty, Capitol
Associated actsCarter Family, The Carter Sisters, Nita, Rita & Ruby, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Waylon Jennings

Ina Anita Carter (March 31, 1933 – July 29, 1999), the youngest daughter of Ezra and Mother Maybelle Carter, was an American singer who experimented with several different types of music and played upright bass and guitar with her sisters Helen Carter and June Carter Cash and mother Maybelle Carter as The Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle. Maybelle and her three daughters joined WSM and the Grand Ole Opry radio show in 1950 (Anita was 17 years old at the time), The Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle were bringing in more money to WSM from their "personals" or "shows" in the early to mid 50's filling every venue that they played with droves of people outside just to hear their show or hear June make everyone laugh. WSM radio received 15% of the door and they brought in more money than any other artists for a period in the early to mid 50's. An upcoming young singer, Elvis Presley, was an added attraction when he was added to the Opry shows in 1954 after bombing at the Grand Ole Opry on October 2, 1954. Presley was billed below the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle for over a year and even opened some shows for the Carter Girls when Hank Snow or Faron Young were not on the Opry tour. Anita and the Carters would stay on the tour and would be an opening act for Presley after he became a star in 1956, after his hit song "Heartbreak Hotel".

The Carters changed their performing and recording name to the Carter Family in 1960 and would join Johnny Cash’s tour in 1961, and would later become a staple of Cash’s network TV show, filmed at the Roman auditorium from 1969 to 1971. Anita was said to get "thundering applause" after she would sing solo numbers like "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight" from her early teenage years until her death in 1999.

As a solo artist, and with her family, Carter recorded for a number of labels including RCA Victor, Cadence, Columbia, Audiograph, United Artists, Liberty and Capitol. Chet Atkins praised her talent on the upright bass and used her on many of his record productions. She played 12-string guitar and autoharp with the family after giving up the bass in later years.


Born in Maces Spring, Virginia, she scored two Top Ten hits in 1951 with "Down The Trail of Achin' Hearts" with Hank Snow at No. 2 and "Blue Bird Island" at No. 4. She reached the Top Ten again in 1968 with "I Got You" with Waylon Jennings at No. 4.[1] Other solo releases charted as well. Carter recorded two folk albums in the 1960s. In 1962, she recorded a song co-written by her sister June and Merle Kilgore called "Love's Ring of Fire".

After hearing her record, "Love's Ring of Fire", her future brother-in-law, Johnny Cash, reportedly dreamed of hearing Mexican horns on the record and told Anita that if her song did not hit in five or six months he would record it "the way I feel it". After the song failed to make the charts, Cash recorded it as "Ring of Fire" in March 1963 with the horns and the Carter Sisters (along with Mother Maybelle). The revised song went on to gain wide international popularity and became one of the biggest hits of his career. She appeared on The Kate Smith Evening Hour with her family and in a duet with Hank Williams, on his song "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)".


Carter married fiddler Dale Potter in 1950 (they later divorced), session musician Don Davis in 1953 (divorced and then remarried), and Bob Wootton (lead guitarist for Johnny Cash's band The Tennessee Three) in 1974 (divorced). She had two children, Lorrie Frances and John Christopher (Jay) Davis.


Carter suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for many years, and the drugs used to treat it severely damaged her pancreas, kidneys, and liver. She died on July 29, 1999, at the age of 66,[2] a year after eldest sister Helen and four years before middle sister June. She was under hospice care at the home of Johnny and June Carter Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Her interment was in Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Album discography apart from Carter Family[edit]

Albums Label Date
Blue Doll (Single) Cadence Records – 1333 1957
Together Again (with Hank Snow) RCA Victor LSPLSP – 2580 Nov. 1962
Folk Songs Old and New Mercury SR – 60770 Dec. 1962
Anita Carter of the Carter Family Mercury SR – 60847 Feb. 1964
So Much Love Capitol ST – 11075 1972
Yesterday House Of Cash HOC – 1000 1995
Appalachian Angel: Her Recordings 1950–1972 & 1996 Bear Family June 22, 2004

Singles chart activity apart from Carter Family[edit]

Year Title Label Peak Chart Position Comments
1951 Bluebird Island RCA Victor 4 duet with Hank Snow
1951 Down the Trail of Aching Hearts RCA Victor 2 duet with Hank Snow
1955 Pledging my Love RCA Victor N/A as part of 'Nita, Rita & Ruby
1966 I'm Gonna Leave You RCA Victor 44
1967 Love Me Now (While I Am Living) RCA Victor 61
1968 I Got You RCA Victor 4 duet with Waylon Jennings
1968 To Be a Child Again RCA Victor 65
1969 Coming of the Roads United Artists 50 duet with Johnny Darrell
1971 Tulsa County Capitol 41
1971 A Whole Lotta Lovin' Capitol 61


  1. ^ a b c Bush, John. "Anita Carter Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  2. ^ Polatnick, Gordon. "Anita Carter". Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory. Retrieved January 20, 2016.