Wilf Carter (musician)
|Birth name||Wilfred Arthur Charles Carter|
|Also known as||Montana Slim, The Yodelling Cowboy|
|Born||December 18, 1904|
Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Origin||Calgary, Alberta, Canada|
|Died||December 5, 1996 (aged 91)|
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
|Labels||RCA Victor, Bluebird Records|
Wilfred Arthur Charles Carter (December 18, 1904 – December 5, 1996), professionally known as Wilf Carter in his native Canada and also as Montana Slim in the United States, was a Canadian Country and Western singer, songwriter, guitarist, and yodeller. He wrote over 500 songs.
In 1971, Wilf Carter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Widely acknowledged as the father of Canadian country music, Carter was Canada's first country music star, inspiring a generation of young Canadian performers.
Carter was born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, Canada. One of nine children, he began working odd jobs by the age of eight in Canning, Nova Scotia. He began singing after seeing a traveling Swiss performer named "The Yodelling Fool" in Canning. Carter left home at the age of 15 after a falling out with his father, who was a Baptist minister.
In 1923, at age 18, after working as a lumberjack and singing with hobos in boxcars, Carter moved west to Calgary, Alberta, where he became friends with Pete Knight and found work as a cowboy. (In 1979, Carter served as the grand marshal at the Calgary Stampede.) He made extra money singing and playing his guitar at dances, performing for tourist parties, and traveling throughout the Canadian Rockies. It was during this time that he developed his own yodelling style, sometimes called an "echo yodel" or a "three-in-one".
Radio years (1930–1940)
Carter performed his first radio broadcast on CFCN Alberta in 1930. Soon after, he was heard locally on CFAC and nationally on the CRBC. Two years later, he was entertaining tourists as a trail rider for the Canadian Pacific Railway, who promoted horseback excursions into the Canadian Rockies. Carter soon became very popular in the region.
In 1933, he was hired as an entertainer on the maiden voyage of the British ship S.S. Empress. Later that year, he stopped off in Montreal and made his first recording: "My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby" and "The Capture of Albert Johnson". After signing with the Canadian branch of RCA Victor, "My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby" became the first hit record ever by a Canadian country performer. That same year, Carter also wrote and recorded "Pete Knight, The King of the Cowboys," which also became a hit.
For seven years (1934-1940) he hosted his own CBS country music radio program in New York City. His announcer was Bert Parks. CBS changed his the name to "Montana Slim," to appeal to American audiences. In 1935, Carter also performed on WABC radio. In 1937, Carter returned to Alberta, where he purchased a ranch. He continued to appear on CBC, NBC, and CBS until CBS dropped him in 1940.
In 1940, Carter seriously injured his back in a car accident in Montana. He was unable to perform for much of the decade, but his popularity was sustained by the periodic release of new recordings.
He had a recording contract with RCA-Victor for five years (1947-1952) and then moved to Nashville where he recorded with Decca from 1954 to 1957. At Decca, Carter used Owen Bradley's studio, featured a backing band that included Chet Atkins and Grady Martin.
He sold his ranch in 1949 and moved his family to a 180 acres (73 ha) farm in New Jersey.
In 1949, Carter resumed live performances with tours in Canada and the United States. In 1950, he attracted over 50,000 people during a week at the Canadian National Exhibition bandstand in Toronto, Ontario.
In 1953, Wilf Carter started touring with his own show called, 'The Family Show with the Folks You Know.' His daughters, Carol and Sheila, worked with him as dancers and back-up singers.
In 1980, Country Music Queen Kitty Wells and her husband Johnnie Wright encouraged Carter to tour with them, which was billed as Carter's 80th Birthday Tour. From 1980 to 1985 he toured different parts of Canada.
Wilf Carter recorded over 40 original and compilation LP records for RCA Victor including Nuggets of the Golden West, Christmas in Canada, Songs of the Rail and Range, Songs of Australia, Wilf Carter Sings Jimmie Rogers, and Let's Go Back to the Bible. In 1983, he re-recorded many of his most popular songs for Fifty Golden Years.
In 1988, Carter recorded his last album, What Ever Happened to All Those Years. In 1991, at age 86, he made his last concert tour, appropriately called 'The Last Round-up Tour', with shows throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba. He retired the following year, due to his loss of hearing. Wilf Carter died in 1996 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 13 days before his 92nd birthday.
In 1952, he moved, this time to Orlando, Florida, where he opened the Wilf Carter Motor Lodge, a venture that lasted only two years.
Honours and awards
A video documentary was released in 2000, called The Last Round-up: The Wilf Carter Story, which examined Carter's distinguished career.
He wrote hundreds of songs covering a wide range of themes, including traditional country western, cowboy, folk, and hobo songs. His recordings of "Blue Canadian Rockies" and "You Are My Sunshine" are among the most popular. Fellow Canadian country artist Ian Tyson considers Carter an influence on his music. Another Canadian artist, Stu Davis, acknowledged the importance of Carter's mentorship early in his career and credited him with securing Davis's first recording contract with Sonora Records in New York.
|1960||"The Dynamite Trail"|
|1960||Songs of the Calgary Stampede|
|1962||Reminiscin' With Wilf Carter|
|1963||Old Prairie Melodies|
|1964||Let's Go Back to the Bible|
|1964||Nuggets of the Golden West|
|1965||Christmas In Canada|
|1965||32 Wonderful Years|
|1966||God Bless Our Canada|
|1967||If it wasn't for the farmer what would city slickers do?|
|1967||Waitin' For the Maple Leaves To Fall|
|1968||Hittin' The Track|
|1968||How My Yodeling Days Began|
|1968||Songs Of The Rail and Range|
|1969||The Best Of Wilf Carter|
|1969||Balladeer Of The Golden West|
|1970||Sings Songs Of Australia|
|1970||Away Out There|
|1971||Walls Of Memory|
|1972||My Heartache's Your Happiness|
|1973||40th anniversary Special|
|1973||Wilf Carter's Best / Wilf Carter's West|
|1974||The Wilf Carter Souvenir Album|
|1978||Walkin The Streets Of Calgary|
|1979||I'm Happy To-day|
|1980||My Home on the Range||14|
|1973||"Shoo Shoo Shoo Sha-La-La"||60||My Heartache's Your Happiness|
|1976||"Have a Nice Day"||27||Have a Nice Day|
|1988||"What Ever Happened"||91||What Ever Happened|
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 67/8. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
- "Country Music Star Wilf Carter Dead at 91". Apnews.com. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
- "Encyclopedia Of Country, Western, & Gospel Music P0301".
- Eder, Bruce. "Wilf Carter Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "Wilf Carter". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- "The Yodeling Cowboy".
- Orlando Sentinel
- "Wilf Carter Biography, Songs, & Albums | AllMusic".
- Whispering Pines, p. 111
- "Wilf Carter – The Anthology – CD | Rocklands Entertainment".
- Carter, Wilf. The Yodelling Cowboy. Toronto: Ryerson, 1961.
- "Cowboy Country TV".
- "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. November 23, 1974. Retrieved August 5, 2021 – via Google Books.
- Canadian Song Writers Hall of Fame
- Wilf Carter (Fieldwood Heritage Society)
- Wilf Carter's Records (Fieldwood Heritage Society)
- The Canadians: Wilf Carter (Historica Canada)
- Wilf Carter discography at Discogs
- Wilf Carter at IMDb
- Wilf Carter recordings at the Discography of American Historical Recordings.
- Carter - Voice of Alberta
- Obituary - The Independent