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© 2011 Academy of Achievement
For over 40 years Johnny Cash wrote and sang about the lives of hard-scrabble farmers, homeless drifters, broken-down cowhands, broken-hearted lovers and men behind bars. He gave a voice to the lonesome and the lost, the dispossessed and the disillusioned. He came by this sympathy naturally, growing up on his family's cotton farm in rural Arkansas in the depths of the Depression. America first discovered Johnny Cash in the mid-1950s, and since then people around the world have heard in his voice an unmistakable honesty about the hard facts of life, love and faith.
Johnny Cash placed at least two hits singles a year on the Country music charts for 33 years running, and over 53 million copies of his record albums have been sold since 1959. Songs like "Folsom Prison Blues," and "I Walk the Line," have become part of the national inheritance. In his eighth decade, he won over a new generation of admirers with his interpretations of songs ranging from traditional ballads to the dark and moody songs of contemporary rock bands.
Since his death in 2003, Johnny Cash and his songs have remained an institution in our national life. Thanks to his recordings, the "Man in Black," with the cavernous baritone voice, is still as much a part of the American landscape as the Mississippi River or the Rocky Mountains.
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