Freeman Kitchens of Drake, Kentucky, is a relatively under-the-radar, but noteworthy figure of the mid-20th Century country music scene, and is founder and president emeritus of the long-running Carter Family Fan Club.
A wearer of many hats, he’s participated in the wider record collecting community, buying and selling records since his teens, and later more officially through his combination record shop/general store/post office, from his early twenties, on.
As president of the official fan club of America’s first country music hitmakers, the Carter Family, Freeman—with the help of Fan Club members—produced the mimeographed journal/fanzine, the Sunny Side Sentinel, along with a host of written and visual items that shed light on this important musical history. For years, Freeman served as a consultant to many folk and country music scholars on the history of the Carter Family, and on related topics such as record collecting. These include folklife scholars Archie Green, D.K. Wilgus, Lynwood Montell, Peggy Bulger, Burt Feintuch, Erika Brady, and music writer Nolan Porterfield--to name just a few.
Over the course of our work together, I've occupied many of Freeman’s weekend hours; snapping portraits, inquiring about names, places, sounds and sights, while listening to some of his best records together—all in the name of researching the history of his shop, his recordings, and the vibrant legacy of grassroots music journalism and documentation that he’s fostered through the Carter Family Fan Club.
Yours for the Carters, The Oxford American Magazine (2014)