After about three lessons the voice teacher said, “Don’t take voice lessons. Do it your way”.

So, I have to do a creative project about an artist that had a social or political (or both) influence on the U.S. I sat here for a while wondering who I could choose. I mean, there’s artists like Elvis, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, George Strait, The Beatles, and that’s just to name a few. I sat here playing and playing with whom I could pick and that’s when it hit me! Why not do one of my favorite artists of all time, the man in black himself–Johnny Cash! There’s a story about Johnny that not a lot of people know about. I mean, yes, they did make a movie about him, but there is so much more to the man and how much influence he had on America.

A man of many thoughts: the great Johnny Cash

For this creative project, we’re supposed to show the social and political influence, but make it fun and creative–hence the “creative project”. Since I like to blog, I figured I’d share my findings with you guys! It occurred to me, the best place to start is where all good stories start…the beginning. With that in mind, for this first post, I will be hitting Johnny’s early years.

A young John R. Cash

Johnny was born as John R. Cash on February 26th, 1932. He was one of the 7 kids that would be born to Ray and Carrie Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas. Ray and Carrie were 3rd and 4th generation Americans, but their ethnicity was of completely Scottish decent. Johnny grew up during World War II, and in the time of American prosperity, but even though America prospered—the Cash’s were relatively poor, and what some would consider “white trash”. Growing up, Johnny and his family farmed cotton and other crops on about 20 acres in Dyess Colony. As sharecroppers, they worked hard every day, and to escape from the hardship and troubles they seemed to have, the family turned to music. (Huh, sounds like my family 😛 ). Johnny’s life was surrounded by his mother’s folk songs and hymns; he also heard the working songs of the other sharecroppers.

The Cash Family (can you find Johnny?)

Being raised in Arkansas, he was surrounded by the sounds of rock, blues, country, and gospel; however, he was most influenced by gospel because of his mother. Carrie would sing to the family every night on a beat up guitar, and sensing that Johnny had a gift of music (he picked up a guitar at 12 years old) she pushed him in his musical endeavors. Carrie was also a devout Pentecostal and her faith helped solidify Johnny’s faith in God as well. His mother and gospel music were the two things that influenced his musical career. It influenced him so much that, when he first started looking for a record deal with Sun Records, he wanted to do a gospel music album. But Sun Records owner, Sam Phillips, didn’t like the idea and instantly nixed it. However, even though Phillips wouldn’t do a gospel album, Johnny mixed rock, blues, country, and gospel together to make his unique sound.

While researching for this assignment, I found an article that was done by Rolling Stone. It talked about 10 things that we might not have known about him. One thing was that Johnny apparently had to overcome bigotry. This surprised me, because I always knew that he was a HUGE advocator for the minorities, so finding out that he was involved with an incident with a black soldier and a white woman surprised me. However, when asked about it, Johnny replied that he blamed the bigotry on growing up in Arkansas—which makes sense with the time period that he grew up in. He told a friend that he, “never disliked blacks,” which is the Johnny Cash that I grew up with.

So this is part 1 of 3 of my posts on The Man in Black. I know some of this information is really easy to find online, but I hope that you loved reading it and you might have learned a little about Johnny’s early life. In post two, I’ll be talking about his musical career!!

This is the Farmer’s Daughter. Until next time ya’ll!!

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