About The Artist
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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