When Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton take the stage at Sunday’s 50th Academy of Country Music Awards, they will be continuing a music tradition that began a century ago in the mountains of Virginia. If there can be only one father of country music, it would be A.P. Carter. And if there’s only one founding family of the genre, it’s the Carter family.
Alvin Pleasant Carter was marked by a ring of fire—though not the one his niece June would later write a song about. His mother Mollie, eight months pregnant with him, stood next to a tree that got struck by lightning and touched her belly as electricity coursed through the ground. A.P. was born with a tremor that would later touch his singing voice with an unmistakably special quality.
The Carter family became a family when A.P. married Sara Dougherty, whom he fell in love with…
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