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Leigh H. Edwards

[John R. ]

(b Kingsland, AR, Feb 26, 1932; d Nashville, TN, Sept 12, 2003). American country singer and songwriter. A dominant force in country music during his almost 50-year career, Johnny Cash recorded more than 1500 songs, often about southern rural and working-class life. Singing in his distinctive bass-baritone voice, Cash also tapped into gospel, folk, rockabilly, rock, blues, and bluegrass. He sold more than fifty million albums, won more than a dozen Grammys, had 14 number-one country hits, and enjoyed the rare distinction of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is most famous for his “Man in Black” persona, which he created as a voice for the impoverished and disenfranchised on his song and album of the same name (Columbia, 1971).

One of seven children, Cash was the son of sharecroppers and would later sing about working the cotton fields with his family in Dyess, Arkansas, a Depression-era New Deal cooperative agricultural colony. During his four years in the Air Force as a radio operator stationed in Germany, Cash played in a guitar and string band with buddies on the airbase. Returning home in ...