Arago: Exhibits

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Popularizing Country Music

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, country and folk music did not often reach a national audience. However, as the twentieth century progressed, country music became increasingly popularized at the national level. Musicians such as Sara Dougherty Carter, Maybelle Carter, and Patsy Cline expanded the boundaries of the genre and helped revolutionize the way America viewed country music.

Sara Dougherty Carter (1898-1979) and Maybelle Carter (1909-1978) were cousins that formed their own country music group, The Carter Family. The third musician within the group was Maybelle Carter’s husband, Alvin P. Carter. Sara acted as the lead vocalist within the group, while Maybelle played the lead guitar. The Carter Family started out performing more traditional folk and gospel songs throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, and split up in the 1940’s. However, despite the group’s deterioration, Maybelle and Sara remained active within the country music scene as late as the folk revival movement of the 1960’s. Due to their contributions to the country music genre, the group was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.

Patsy Cline (1932-1963) greatly contributed to the popularization of country music across America. Although Cline performed throughout the early 1950’s, she did not achieve substantial national fame until she won the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts Show in 1957. After the Talent Scouts Show, Cline attained national fame as an artist until her death in 1963 that resulted from a tragic plane crash. In 1973 Cline was honored by the country music community when she became the first solo female performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 1993 the United States Postal Service honored The Carter Family and Patsy Cline by featuring them on postage stamps. The stamps were designed by Richard Waldrep for the American Music Series: Country Music Issue. The ceremony was held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee.

29c Carter Family single

This stamp depicting The Carter Family was issued September 25, 1993.

29c Patsy Cline single

This Patsy Cline stamp was issued on September 26, 1993.