Americana Highways brings you this video premiere of a live recording by Kelsey Rae of the Carter Family’s “I Never Will Marry.” Filmed by Jesse Weeden at the legendary American Legion Post 82 in Nashville, Tennessee, the video features Kelsey Rae on lead vocals and guitar, along with Third Man recording artist, Lillie Mae, on fiddle, and traditional mountain musician, Martha Spencer, on the upright bass.
Originally hailing from the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Kelsey Rae taps into the musical legacy of her home state by performing a Carter Family classic. Known as the First Family of Country Music, the Carter Family from Hiltons, Virginia became one of the first country acts to record commercially at the famous 1927 Bristol Sessions on the Virginia-Tennessee line.
Bearing one of the greatest voices that I have heard from any genre, Kelsey Rae’s take on “I Never Will Marry” is as achingly beautiful as it is haunting. The harmonies and accompaniment provided by Lillie Mae and Martha Spencer elevate the performance into a mournful, ethereal experience that directly connects us to our past.
“I Never Will Marry” is a Carter Family song that tells the story of a woman declaring that she will never be a man’s wife before taking her own life in the sea. I wanted this video to represent my feelings about the song’s narrative and what is currently going on in the world. The clothing we wore in the video was made by Barrie Kaufman of Fables by Barrie, and was meant to signify a look of mourning; grieving past cycles of abuse and breaking free from toxic codependent relationships. I find a lot of truth in the old songs of the Carter Family. I am proud to stand beside two women that I admire in bringing this old song to life once more. Martha and Lillie are masters of their craft. Not only do they actively preserve the traditions of country and mountain music, but carry them forward for a whole new generation. They are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists; it’s a special bond to share this music with them. — Kelsey Rae
You can listen to Kelsey Rae’s “I Never Will Marry” below.