Located at the foot of Clinch Mountain in Hiltons, Virginia, the Carter Family Fold is where the sounds of the first family of country music still echo through the hills.

The Carter Family Fold music venue and museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the legendary Carter Family, who were pioneers of American country music in the late 1920s. The original group included Alvin Pleasant “A.P.” Carter, his wife Sara Carter, and her sister-in-law Maybelle Carter. 

The Carter Family Fold sits on the land of the original Carter Family homestead in the Poor Valley area of Scott County, Virginia. The late Janette Carter, A.P. Carter’s daughter, founded the Carter Family Fold in 1974. The building it still calls home was built in 1976 and opened in 1979. The Carter Family Fold is directed and managed by Janette’s daughter, Rita Forrester. 

Interview with Rita Forrester, Executive Director

“My mother, Janette Carter, made my grandfather, A.P., a promise in 1960 that she would see that his music lived on,” said Forrester. “He wanted people to know about his music and what he had accomplished.”

The Carter Family revolutionized the music industry by serving a crucial role in the development of country music, and the influences of A.P., Sara and Maybelle can still be heard today. The trio’s first recordings were made in 1927 as part of the famous “Bristol Sessions” that jumpstarted country music, and the Carter Family was credited for birthing the original country genre with their traditional mountain sound. 

The family quickly gained popularity, not only in the South but around the nation and abroad. Featuring traditional folk songs as well as new compositions, their music resonated with audiences and established the Carter Family as one of the most successful, enduring and influential groups in music history. 

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In addition to hosting live music performances on the weekend with its 800-plus seating venue, the Carter Family Fold serves as a museum with exhibits showcasing the history and legacy of the Carter Family. Visitors can check out personal items that belonged to the family, including instruments, photographs and other memorabilia.

Visitors can also take a short trip to the restored cabin and birthplace of A.P. Carter, which is just a few steps away from the Carter Family Fold building and the Carter Family Museum. The cabin had to be relocated from its original location due to its inaccessibility and isolation from the public. 

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One of the most famous musicians to perform at the Carter Family Fold was Johnny Cash — the husband of A.P. Carter’s niece, June Carter-Cash.

In 2003, “The Man in Black” gave his final public performance inside this beloved venue. His set that July evening included the classic song, “Ring of Fire,” which was written by his late wife, and a song, Cash said, she was “extremely proud of.” He dedicated the song to the Carter Family.

The list of famous musicians who have performed at the Carter Family Fold continues to grow. Along with Cash, music fans have enjoyed performances by Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and many more.

The Carter Family Fold is an important cultural institution, not only for its preservation of the Carter Family’s legacy, but also for its role in supporting the continuation of traditional country music, including traditional bluegrass and folk music. Join us for regular live music performances, featuring both established artists and up-and-coming musicians, which keeps the Carter Family’s musical heritage alive for new generations to enjoy.