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Alfred G. Karnes
Born:  February 2, 1889
Died:  May 18, 1958

About The Artist

Promo Ad - Victor Records - Alfred G. Karnes - 1928 Alfred Grant Karnes was a singing Methodist (sometimes Baptist) minister who accompanied himself on harp-guitar. In two Victor sessions in Bristol, he recorded a dozen (only eight released) powerful sacred numbers.

A native of Bedford, Virginia, he was living and preaching in Whitley County, Kentucky. He later lived in Starke, Florida, but ultimately returned to Kentucky before his death.

From childhood, Karnes had two desires: preaching and music. He actually learned violin first. He married and fathered two daughters, but the marriage failed. During World War I, he joined the U. S. Navy. Afterward, he moved to Jellico, Tennessee and then moved to Kentucky where he married again in 1920 to Flora Harris.

In 1925, he received the call to preach although he may have still cut hair. In 1944, Flora passed away after giving birth to seven children.

The whole family often gave Sunday concerts at various courthouses in Kentucky.

Although, he had learned to play banjo as well as fiddle and guitar he only took his new harp-guitar to his two sessions in Bristol during which time he also played that instrument on the recordings of the Ernest Phipps.

The most popular numbers among his recordings were "Called to the Foreign Field," "I Am Bound for the Promised Land," and "The Days of My Childhood Play." All eight of his released numbers were included in the Bear Family CD release of his two Bristol session recordings.

Two further marriages were short-lived because his wives died. During his 5th marriage, he moved to Florida. But after this one failed, he returned to Kentucky. After suffering two strokes and died, he was buried beside Flora.

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20840 A I Am Bound for the Promised Land
  20840 B Where We?ll Never Grow Old
  20933 A When They Ring the Golden Bells
  20933 B To the Work
  VI40076 A We Shall All Be Reunited
  VI40076 B Days Of My Old Childhood
  VI40327 A Called To A Foreign Field
  VI40327 B Don't Wait Till I'm Laid Neath The Clay

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