Maybelle Carter (1909–1978)
“Mother” Maybelle Carter was born Maybelle Addington in Nickelsville, Virginia. Maybelle married Ezra J. Carter on March 13, 1926. They had three daughters: Helen, Valerie June (better known as the legendary June Carter Cash), and Anita.
Maybelle Carter was one-third of country music's original first family, the Carters. Maybelle played guitar, autoharp, and banjo in the group. The unique sound for the group came from her innovative use of bass tunings and her “scratch” style of guitar playing, in which she used her thumb to play melody on the bass and middle strings, and her index finger to complete the rhythm — completely opposite from today's fingerstyle playing technique. Maybelle played this style on all of the Carter family's most famous recordings (from 1928 to 1943).
Maybelle Carter played a Gibson L-5 arch-top, which was first produced in 1922. The instrument was revolutionary, modeled after mandolins and violins, with F-shaped holes rather than one round sound hole. May-belle played the now-famous 1928 model for the majority of her career, and her L-5 is now kept at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
After the Carter family split, Maybelle and her daughters toured during the 1950s and 1960s as Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. Maybelle also briefly toured with former Carter family member, Sara Carter, during the 1960s folk music scene and made a historic appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. You can also hear Mother Maybelle featured on the 1971 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's platinum-selling classic,
Though no one has made a movie or documentary on Mother Maybelle's life, you can see part of her story in the 2005 movie