Johnny Cash Stamp Unveiling
Join us Wednesday, June 5 for the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service's Johnny Cash stamp on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at the Ryman. This event is free and open to the public.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., a special ceremony will recognize the Man in Black's contributions to music and pop culture, followed by a series of appearances from a few of Johnny Cash's closest friends and family including John Carter Cash, Carlene Carter, the Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis and Marty Stuart.
Johnny Cash is memorialized in a limited-edition Forever stamp, issued by the U.S. Postal Service on June 5, 2013. For the stamp art, art director and stamp designer Greg Breeding chose a photograph of Johnny Cash taken during the photo session for Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963). The photo was taken by Frank Bez for Columbia Records (now part of Sony Music Entertainment). Breeding designed the square stamp and pane to resemble the appearance of a 45 rpm record sleeve. The stamp is part of U.S. Postal Service's Music Icon Series, which also includes stamps honoring Lydia Mendoza (available now) and Ray Charles (to be released in September). The stamps are available for purchase at Ryman Auditorium on June 5 from 9 a.m. until noon, at the CMA Festival Fan Fair X at LP Field June 6-9, local post offices and online.
John Carter Cash
Hendersonville TN | Singer-Songwriter
John Carter Cash has been in music in some form or fashion all his life. He is a singer-song writer and record producer. He is the Grandchild of Maybelle Carter and the only son to John R Cash and June Carter Cash. He preserves the family legacy and is caretaker to the heritage of his musical ancestors.
John Carter’s greatest passion is working as a music producer. Having began this walk with his mother June Carter Cash on her CD, Press On, which won a Grammy in 1999, he went on to work under Rick Rubin as Associate Producer on his father Johnny Cash’s Grammy winning records American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around, the latter receiving three CMA awards.
He also produced his mother’s record Wildwood Flower, which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk album in 2003. His 2004 production Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family, received three Grammy nominations. John Carter is Co-Producer on the Marty Stuart CD, Badlands. "The Voice of the Spirit, the Gospel of the South" released in April of 2006 has received critical regard and acclaim. He produced the Peasall Sisters CD, Home to You. John Cater has produced material for Loretta Lynn, Josh Turner, Brooks & Dunn, Laura Cash, Elvis Costello, Wylie and the Wild West, George Jones, Mavis Staples, Lynda Carter, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, John Randal and Jessi Alexander, Norman and Nancy Blake, Tim O' Brien, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Earl and Randy Scruggs, Rosanne Cash, John Cowan, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Tony Rice, and John Prine.
Nashville TN | Country
Born Rebecca Carlene Smith (on September 26, 1955), this prodigal child of country music royalty (granddaughter of Maybelle Carter of the original Carter Family, daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash) has been making a name for herself since her debut album, "Carlene Carter," on Warner Bros. in 1978. Launched by Emmylou Harris's hit recording of her song "Easy From Now On," the young mother of two left Nashville at 22 to make an album in England with rocker Graham Parker's band, The Rumour. Newsweek called her "a stunning newcomer," and TIME magazine named the album "Tops in Pops" for the summer, along with records by Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. And when Maybelle died that fall, Rolling Stone magazine wrote that she "lived to see her granddaughter Carlene merge Nashville with contemporary rock & roll."
Her second album, "Two Sides To Every Woman" in 1979, featured guest musicians like Paul Schafer, Clarence Clemons, and John McFee of The Doobie Brothers (Carlene co-wrote their hit, "One Step Closer"); and also began a writing collaboration with her soon-to-be husband, esteemed British singer-writer-producer Nick Lowe, on Carlene's first charting country single, "Do It In A Heartbeat" (#42 Billboard). Clips of their wedding were seen in his "Cruel To Be Kind" video, and Lowe produced his wife's next two albums: 1980's "Musical Shapes," with Dave Edmunds dueting on the single "Baby Ride Easy" (the album was later called "one of the finest country-rock albums of the post-rockabilly age" by Entertainment Weekly); and "Blue Nun," an R & B-influenced European release highlighted by two duets with Paul Carrack (who left Squeeze to join her band) in 1981. While Carlene's model looks were being seen in the high-fashion pages of Harper's Bazaar, her risque onstage patter got her quoted and cartooned in Playboy magazine's year-end issue as well.
Carlene made the American Top-40 pop chart (at #32) with Robert Ellis Orrall on their duet "I Couldn't Say No," and followed it with her techno-tinged "C'est C Bon" album on Epic, both in 1983. But after five albums with no major hits of her own, Carlene took a break from her recording career, and spent a year on the London stage in the hit American musical "Pump Boys and Dinettes"; then filled in for her ailing aunt Anita when The Carter Family came to Wembley with the Johnny Cash show, and ended up going on the road with them for the next two years, until she decided it was time to work on her own music again. Dwight Yoakam told her: "Carlene, there is a place for you in country music"--afterall, what was now getting airplay was the same mix of country and rock that she had been playing all along. She started off the new decade with a hit duet on the country charts, "Time's Up," with old pal John McFee's new group Southern Pacific--which opened the door for Carlene's own "I Fell In Love" (back on Warner Bros. again) in the fall of 1990, produced by bassist Howie Epstein of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
With one of the hippest, rockinest country songs ever put on tape, the TNN and CMT #1 video helped propel the single to #3 on the Billboard country chart, and #4 for the entire year on The Gavin Report for country radio play; while the "I Fell In Love" album was named one of the year's 10 best in any genre by TIME, People, and Stereo Review magazines. Award nominations followed for the Academy of Country Music's "Top New Female Vocalist"; and "Best Country Vocal Performance, Female," at the 1991 Grammy Awards. Hit singles continued with "Come On Back" (also #3) and "The Sweetest Thing"; and Carlene's sparkling video presence made her a natural to bring country music to the hip VH-1 audience as their first country video hostess with her own daily hour, "The Carlene Carter Show."
Her new country star status kept Carlene on the road for most of the next 18 months, until she did the unthinkable by Nashville standards, taking a year off to write her next album. The delay cost Carlene her deal at Warner Bros. Reprise, but she was quickly signed to their newer Giant Records division for 1993's "Little Love Letters" (again produced by Epstein), which repeated her previous success with another smash hit video and single, "Every Little Thing" (#3); and reviews like Country Music magazine's praise for the album and its second single: "'Unbreakable Heart' boasts the same kind of jazzy chords that Willie Nelson wrote into 'Crazy' and Patsy Cline picked up on, and Carter sings it just that classily." In 1994, Carlene had a cameo in the movie "Maverick," with a single and video ("Something Already Gone") from the film's soundtrack.
By 1995, her musical evolution had brought Carlene to the next logical step of producing her second album for Giant, "Little Acts of Treason," on which she finally got her dad Carl Smith out of retirement for a duet of his hit "Loose Talk" (#1 for seven weeks the year Carlene was born). The CD's first single and video were an upbeat cover of Kennedy Rose's "Love Like This"; "But," said People magazine, "the real stunner here is 'Change,' a ballad she wrote that is an introspective look at Carter's life, demonstrating her maturity as a songwriter and as a singer of deeply felt emotions." Though the CD yielded no real hits, Carlene Carter continued to be one of the most critically-acclaimed artists of her time, New Country magazine stating that: "a holding pattern in her book is a career-high achievement in virtually anyone else's," and Carlene has named this disc as her favorite.
More TV appearances included a series of specials for TNN, "Carlene Carter: Circle of Song," which TV Guide called "an entertaining and informal musical roundup," with many of her musical friends and family members joining her; and Carlene hit 33 cities in 1996 with two other famous Nashville daughters, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, for what USA Today believed to be "the first all-female major country tour."
But just as doors had opened in the early '90s for Carlene and many of her peers, by mid-decade the industry was changing again, with more emphasis placed on the youth market and creating overnight "superstars," while many country hit-makers were suddenly without a record deal. Giant released Carlene's first "best of" collection, "Hindsight 20/20" (1996), with 20 songs spanning 20 years of recording. Country Weekly wrote: "For most of the last two decades, Carlene Carter has roared and rocked Nashville's socks off and sometimes we've taken her for granted. 'Hindsight 20/20' reminds us just how much we'd miss her if she wasn't around to brighten our lives." Unfortunately, this was the last that most of her fans would see or hear of Carlene for the next several years.
Though she continued to occasionally perform on successful tours of Europe, Carlene mostly laid low in the U.S.--or tried to, as legal problems put her back in the spotlight, and the tabloids, at times. She reunited with Dave Edmunds on a song for a Nike commercial in 2002; and made guest appearances in 2003 on albums by The Chieftains, and a Waylon Jennings tribute (with critics noting the similarity in his and Carlene's rebellious personalities)--but her life was devastated by a series of personal losses as many of her loved ones, including several family members, died within the span of about a year.
Her performance of "Jackson" with Brooks & Dunn at the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute concert in the fall of 2003 (which The Tennessean called "the show's emotional highlight"), inspired the producers of a new stage musical to approach Carlene about starring in "Wildwood Flowers: The June Carter Story," which focused on her mom's early years with Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. Living in L.A. at the time and still concentrating on her recovery (with the help of MusiCares), Carlene eventually accepted the role, returned to Nashville, and along with cousin Lorrie Davis Bennett as her own mom, Anita Carter, found comfort and healing in playing June in July 2005--though as No Depression magazine wrote: "'Play' is not quite the right word. Onstage, Carlene kicked into a dance like her mother, carried her body like her, very much seemed to become her." Each show ended with Carlene's emotional tribute to her grandma and sister Rosey on "Me And The Wildwood Rose," segueing into "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."
Carlene continues to honor Rosey on the title track to her new CD "Stronger," with its powerful refrain, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger"; she chronicles the journey taken with her new husband from L.A. back home to Nashville in "Bring Love"; and reprises her tongue-in-cheek anthem "I'm So Cool" from 1980. Another new highlight on the CD is Carlene's own version of her long-lost song "It Takes One To Know Me," written as a birthday present for her stepfather when she was just 19, and first heard on the Johnny Cash box-set "The Legend" in 2005; then in 2006 on his "Personal File" CD and "16 Biggest Hits" by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
In 2006, Carlene recorded a pre-release version of "Stronger" with her brother, John Carter Cash (who also produced their mom's last two Grammy-winning CDs), which was sold at Carlene's concerts and through her Fan Club online. For the official label release, her old friend John McFee (of The Doobie Brothers and Southern Pacific) served as producer and multi-instrumentalist, and the CD came out in March 2008 on the respected independent label Yep Roc Records, with many critics and fans around the world naming "Stronger" as among the best work from Carlene Carter's 30-year career. Elvis Costello contacted McFee: "I couldn't let a day go by without writing a note about C.C.'s record. It is astounding." And legendary lyricist Bernie Taupin told the Fan Club that "Stronger" was: "A staggering achievement by one of the great voices and fearless hearts of country rock." USA Today said simply: "It's great to hear her again."
Carrying on both sides of her historic family legacies, Carlene is currently working on a CD and DVD with many artists paying tribute to her father Carl Smith, the legendary 2003 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee who passed away in January 2010; and her own next CD will feature Carlene singing songs of the Carter Family. Nearly a century after their first recordings changed the course of American music, the circle remains unbroken by Carlene Carter, stronger than ever.
Oak Ridge Boys
Hendersonville TN | Country
Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of the Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring three decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to bear on a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
"When I go on stage, I get the same feeling I had the first time I sang with the Oak Ridge Boys," says lead singer Duane Allen. "This is the only job I've ever wanted to have."
"Like everyone else in the group," adds bass singer extraordinaire Richard Sterban, "I was a fan of the Oaks before I became a member. I'm still a fan of the group today. Being in the Oak Ridge Boys is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."
The two, along with tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden, comprise one of Country's truly legendary acts. Their string of hits includes the pop chart-topper Elvira, as well as Bobbie Sue, Dream On, Thank God For Kids, American Made, I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes, Fancy Free, Gonna Take A Lot Of River and many others. They've scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album, plus one double platinum single, and had more than a dozen national Number One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.
The Oaks represent a tradition that extends back to World War II. The original group, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, began performing Country and Gospel music in nearby Oak Ridge where the atomic bomb was being developed. They called themselves the Oak Ridge Quartet, and they began regular Grand Ole Opry appearances in the fall of ’45. In the mid-fifties, they were featured in Time magazine as one of the top drawing Gospel groups in the nation.
By the late ’60s, with more than 30 members having come and gone, they had a lineup that included Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Noel Fox, and Willie Wynn. Among the Oaks’ many acquaintances in the Gospel field were Bonsall, a streetwise Philadelphia kid who embraced Gospel music; and Sterban, who was singing in quartets and holding down a job as a men’s clothing salesman. Both admired the distinctive, highly popular Oaks.
“They were the most innovative quartet in Gospel music,” says Bonsall. “They performed Gospel with a Rock approach, had a full band, wore bell-bottom pants and grew their hair long... things unheard of at the time.”
The four became friends, and when the Oaks needed a bass and tenor in ’72 and ’73, respectively, Sterban and Bonsall got the calls. For a while, the group remained at the pinnacle of the Gospel music circuit. It was there they refined the strengths that would soon make them an across-the-board attraction.
“We did a lot of package shows,” says Bonsall. “There was an incredible amount of competition. You had to blow people away to sell records and get invited back.”
Their Gospel sound had a distinct Pop edge to it and, although it made for excitement and crowd appeal, it also ruffled purist feathers and left promoters unsure about the Oaks’ direction. Then in 1975, the Oaks were asked to open a number of dates for Roy Clark. Clark’s manager, Jim Halsey, was impressed by their abilities.
“He came backstage and told us we were three-and-a-half minutes (meaning one hit record) away from being a major act,” says Bonsall. “He said we had one of the most dynamic stage shows he’d ever seen but that we had to start singing Country songs.”
They took his advice and the result was a breakthrough.
“Those who came to Country music with or after the New Traditionalists of the mid-eighties cannot possibly imagine the impact the Oaks had in 1977, when they lit up the sky from horizon to horizon with Y’All Come Back Saloon,” wrote Billboard’s Ed Morris. He added “... the vocal intensity the group brought to it instantly enriched and enlivened the perilously staid Country format. These guys were exciting.” Within a year, Paul Simon tapped them to sing backup for his hit Slip Slidin’ Away, and they went on to record with George Jones, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Monroe, Ray Charles and others. In 2007, they recorded with the son of an old friend. Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, invited the Oaks to perform Slow Train, a song on his sophomore CD.
Their career has spanned not only decades, but also formats. They have appeared before five presidents. They produced one of the first Country music videos (Easy, in 1977, although not released in the U.S., it reached the 3 slot in Australia). They participated in the first American popular music headline tour in the USSR. And they have become one of the most enduringly successful touring groups anywhere. They still performing some 150 dates each year at major theaters, fairs and festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
They did it with a consistently upbeat musical approach and terrific business savvy.
“We always look for songs that have lasting value and that are uplifting,” says Allen, who has co-produced the Oaks’ last seven studio albums. “You don’t hear us singing ’cheating’ or ’drinking’ songs, but ’loving’ songs, because we think that will last. We also don’t put music in categories, except for ’good’ or ’bad.’ When we get through with it, it’s probably going to sound like an Oak Ridge Boys song no matter what it is.”
They proved their business acumen in any number of ways, including such steps as declining the chance to sit on the couch during their many appearances on the Tonight Show.
“We said, ’If you’re going to give us four minutes on the couch with Johnny, we’d rather have four minutes to give you another song that lets people know what got us here,’” says Allen. “We didn’t get here talking; we got here singing.”
They also proved themselves to be capable and tireless advocates of charitable and civic causes, serving as spokesmen and/or board members of fundraisers for the Boy Scouts of America, the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (now known as Prevent Child Abuse America), Feed The Children, the National Anthem Project and many more.
The group’s first personnel change in many years occurred in 1987 when Steve Sanders, who had been playing guitar in the Oaks Band, replaced William Lee as the baritone singer. Late in ’95, Steve resigned from the Oaks and exactly one minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve, Duane, Joe and Richard surprised a packed house at the Holiday Star Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana, by welcoming William Lee on stage and back into the group. The hit makers were finally together again!
The Oaks’ high-energy stage show remains the heart and soul of what they do, and they refine it several times a year, striving to keep it fresh well into the future.
“We’re not willing to rest on our laurels,” Golden says. “That gets boring. As a group, we do things constantly to challenge ourselves, to try to do something different or better than the last time we did it.”
“I feel like I can do what I do on stage just as good now as I could 20 years ago,” says Bonsall. “I plan to be rockin’ my tail off out there as long as I’m healthy. The people who come out, who bring their families to see us, deserve everything I’ve got.”
“We’ve experienced a lot of longevity,” adds Sterban. “I think the reason is the love we have for what we do—the desire, the longing to actually get up there and do it. We love to sing together... to harmonize together. It’s what our lives are all about.”
Marshville NC | Country
Country superstar Randy Travis is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his award-studded career with a stellar cast of collaborators.
Joining him on his Anniversary Celebration CD are such members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and Ray Price. Current Nashville hit makers Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley are also singing with him on the collection. Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Don Henley is on board, as are such up-and-comers as country’s James Otto and Jamey Johnson, pop’s Kristin Chenoweth and Irish tenor Eamonn McCrystal.
Randy’s fellow country superstar Alan Jackson has written several songs with him, so his presence is a natural. Revered vocal stylists such as Shelby Lynne, John Anderson, Gene Watson and Joe Stampley participate, as do Randy’s fellow Grand Ole Opry cast members Lorrie Morgan and Connie Smith.
Nashville TN | Country
Marty Stuart is a five time GRAMMY-winner, platinum recording artist, Grand Ole Opry star, country music archivist, Southern culture historian, photographer, musician, songwriter, TV show host, charismatic force of nature, and country music fan.
Since starting out singing gospel as a child, Stuart, 54, has spent over four decades celebrating American roots music with a missionary's zeal. His teenage years on tour with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt in the '70s were followed by six years in Johnny Cash's band during the '80s and a chart-topping tenure as a solo artist in the '90s.
The turn of the century saw Stuart looking inward to make deeply felt records paying homage to his love of vintage gospel, his Native American passions, and as always, his core -- foot-stompin', tail-shakin', honky tonkin', rockin' hillbilly music. His latest musical oeuvre is ably supported by the coolest cats in Nashville - his backing band, The Fabulous Superlatives: guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson, and bassist Paul Martin.
Stuart's zest for every conceivable flavor of country music is also seen regularly by TV viewers these days, on RFD-TV's "The Marty Stuart Show", a musical variety show and the number one program on the network.
So, what's next? As musicologist Peter North cites, "Marty Stuart seems wrapped in his destiny at this point in time. Not only as country music's most notable ambassador/caretaker, but as its main archetypical crusader. He has without question evolved into one of the most important roots musicians and visionaries in America."