In September, I was given the opportunity to visit, “The Birthplace of Country Music” in Bristol Tennessee. I was able to learn about “The first family” the Carter’s and many others. A.P. Carter, his wife- Sara, and sister-in-law Maybelle, were a few of the first performers to make the Bristol Sessions successful and well-known. They sang wonderful harmonies and shape-note hymns. There music was popular when the sessions first began and their music has carried over to today. Maybelle play the lead guitar with her thumb while the other sang in great harmony.
Jimmie Rogers, another great performer, split from his band just before the Bristol Session. When he split, he sang solo at the Bristol Sessions. The Carters and Jimmie Rogers tend to overshadow other major performers at the Bristol sessions. Some include Reverend Phipps and his Holiness singers, Alfred Karnes and Alfred Reed; all of which sang for the holiest of people. They were all tied in with religion, like most all Bluegrass and old time at the time. Reed grew up in Bedford County, VA (maybe 30 miles from my hometown!), and soon worked his way to Bristol, VA/TN.
Here is a link for a performance by the Carter Family and Another for Alfred Reed: