According to an article in the Richmond Post-Dispatch, the Carter Family Fold board booted the grandson of Sara and A.P. Carter. Ron McConnell, a walking wealth of information on country music, alerted me to the story.
Apparently, the dispute is over a collection of audio recordings that Dale Jett, the country-music legends' grandson and a long-time member of the Carter Family Memorial Music Center's board of directors, gave to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In December Jett was formally voted off the board. The article says:
At the heart of the dispute was an April 2007 agreement that Jett signed
with UNC. Under the deal, Jett sent about 4,000 audiocassettes containing 1,500
hours of live performances from the Carter Fold to the school's Southern
Folklife Collection, (board President Howard) Klein said.
"This began as a project to find the best way to preserve 30 years of tape
recordings from the Fold," Klein said. "I don't know when it changed into giving
the collection away. The board never knew about this."
Klein's account is disputed by Maxine Kenny, former project director for a
grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to preserve the Carter
Fold's audio archives. Kenny, who left the project in response to Jett's
departure, said in a written statement that the board was notified of the
agreement with UNC in April, the month it was signed.
The dear Janette Carter - Jett's late mother - created the fold in 1974 in tribute to her parents A.P. and Sara and her aunt "Mother Maybelle." The threesome's 1927 recordings made in Bristol, Tenn. - along with Jimmie Rodgers - are usually referred to as the "Big Bang" of country music.
For folks who haven't been to the Fold, it's an amazing experience, a place filled with music lovers of all ages and from all around the world. Tucked into a corner of Poor Valley, Va. at the foot of Clinch Mountain, the Fold is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of old-time country and folk music with performances every Saturday night. The music is all acoustic and in the history of the Fold, Miss Janette granted exceptions and permitted plug ins for only two performers: Johnny Cash and Marty Stuart.
While I have never met Jett, I can say his sister Rita Forrester is a lovely, lovely woman. Within minutes of meeting her, I felt as if we'd been friends forever. On one of my visits, she made it possible for me to spend a Sunday afternoon with her mother, not long before Miss Janette passed away. I sat with her in her tiny living room filled with porcelain angels as she talked about her life and the history of her family. It will remain forever one of my most treasured memories.
As Ron McConnell said in an e-mail, "Let's hope (the controversy) gets worked out." I agree. I hate to see such a wonderful place be disrupted by disharmony.
For more information on the Fold and its events, go here.