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Rosanne Cash in 2009
Background information
Birth name Rosanne Cash
Born May 24, 1955 (1955-05-24) (age 54)
Origin Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Country, Rock, Folk, Blues
Occupations singer-songwriter, author
Instruments vocals, guitar
Years active 1978 – present
Labels Ariola
Associated acts Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Juice Newton, Dolly Parton
Website Official Website

Rosanne Cash (born May 24, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter and author. She is the eldest daughter of the late country music singer Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin.

Although she is often classified as a country artist, her music draws on many genres, including folk, pop, rock and blues. In the 1980s, she had a string of chart-topping singles, which crossed musical genres and landed on both C&W and Top 100 charts, the most commercially successful being her 1981 breakthrough hit "Seven Year Ache", which topped the U.S. country singles charts and reached the Top 30 on the U.S. pop singles charts. In 1990, Cash released Interiors, a spare, introspective album which signaled a break from her pop country past. The following year Cash ended her marriage and moved from Nashville to New York City, where she continues to write, record and perform. Since 1991 she has released five albums, written two books and edited a collection of short stories. Her fiction and essays have been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Oxford-American, New York Magazine, and various other periodicals and collections.

She won a Grammy in 1985 for "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me," and has received nine other Grammy nominations. She has had 11 #1 country hit singles, 21 Top 40 country singles and two gold records.


Early life

Rosanne Cash was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955, just as Johnny Cash was recording his first tracks at Sun Records.[1] The family moved to California in 1958, first to Los Angeles, then Ventura, where Cash and her sisters were raised by mother Vivian (Vivian and Johnny separated in the early '60s[2] and divorced in 1966). After graduating from high school, she joined her father's road show for two and a half years, first as a wardrobe assistant,[3] then as a background vocalist and occasional soloist.[4] In 1976, Cash briefly worked for CBS Records in London before returning to Nashville to study English and drama at Vanderbilt University, then relocated to Los Angeles to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Hollywood.[5] She recorded a demo in January 1978 with Emmylou Harris' songwriter/sideman Rodney Crowell, which led to a full album with German label Ariola Records.[5]

Music career

1978 - 1980: First American release

Her self-titled debut album was recorded in 1978, but Ariola never released it in the United States, and it has since become a collector's item. Mainly recorded and produced in Munich, Germany with German-based musicians, it also included three tracks recorded in Nashville and produced by Crowell.[6] Though Cash was unhappy with the album, it attracted the attention of Columbia Records, who offered her a recording contract.[7] She began playing with Crowell's band The Cherry Bombs in California clubs. Crowell and Cash married in 1979,[3] and Cash started work on her first Columbia LP.

The album, Right or Wrong, was released in early 1980,[8] and produced three Top 25 singles.[6] The first, "No Memories Hangin' Around," a duet with country singer Bobby Bare, reached 17 on the Country Singles chart in 1979. It was followed by "Couldn't Do Nothin' Right" and "Take, Take Me" in 1980.[9] Rosanne, pregnant with her first child, was unable to tour in support of the album, which was nevertheless a critical success.[8] Cash and Crowell moved to Nashville in 1981.

1981 - 1989: Critical and Commercial Success

Cash's career picked up considerable momentum with the release of her second album, Seven Year Ache, in 1981. The album achieved critical raves and solid sales, and the title track was a #1 hit on the Billboard Country Chart, and crossed over to the Billboard Pop Chart, peaking at #22. The album yielded two additional #1 country hits, "My Baby Think's He's a Train" and "Blue Moon with a Heartache,"[8] and was certified Gold by the RIAA.

Cash's third album, Somewhere in the Stars (1982), was considered a disappointment after the commercial success of Seven Year Ache.[5] The album still reached the Top 100 of the US pop album charts, and included three US country chart singles, "Ain't No Money", "I Wonder" and "It Hasn't Happened Yet".[10]. Cash struggled with substance abuse during this time, and in 1984 she sought medical treatment.[8]

After a three-year hiatus, Cash released her fourth studio album, Rhythm & Romance (1985), which yielded two #1 hits, "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me" and "Never Be You", and two other Country Top 10 singles, "Hold on" and "Second to No One." Rhythm & Romance drew high critical praise for its fusion of country and pop.[4] "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me" won the 1985 Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance; "Hold On" won the 1987 Robert J. Burton Award from BMI as the Most Performed Song of the Year.[5]

In the '80s, Cash curtailed her touring for childbearing and raising a family (three daughters with Crowell, as well as Crowell's daughter by his first marriage, Hannah). She continued to record and in 1987 released the most critically acclaimed album of her career, King's Record Shop.[11] It spawned four #1 hits, including a cover version of her father's "Tennessee Flat Top Box," John Hiatt's "The Way We Make a Broken Heart," "If You Change Your Mind," and "Runaway Train," and became Cash's second gold album. In 1988 Cash recorded a duet with Crowell, "It's Such a Small World" (released on his Diamonds & Dirt album), which also went to #1 on the country charts, and Cash was named Billboard's Top Singles Artist of the year.[5]

In 1989, Columbia released her first compilation album, Hits 1979-1989. The album yielded two new hit singles, the Beatles cover "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", which landed at #1 on the Billboard country charts, and "Black and White", which earned Cash her fifth Grammy nomination.[6]

1990 - 1995: Break Up, Relocation

In 1990, Cash released the critically acclaimed, deeply personal Interiors. Cash produced herself for the first time, and wrote or co-wrote all the songs. "Her brutally dark take on intimate relationships was reflected throughout and made clear the marital problems that had been hinted at on earlier albums."[3] "Highly autobiographical (though Cash has often insisted it isn't quite as true to life as everyone assumes), Interiors was a brilliant, introspective album"[12] and "her masterpiece"[13]. Other critics called it "maudlin"[5] and "pessimistic."[10] Interiors topped many best album lists in 1990,[12] and received a Grammy award nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. It yielded one Top 40 single ("What We Really Want"), and marked the beginning of sharp commercial decline for Cash.

Though it may have been inspired by the breakup of her marriage, it also signified her departure from Nashville and its country music establishment. In 1991 Cash relocated to New York City; in 1992, she and Crowell divorced.[6] The Wheel, released in 1993, was "an unflinchingly confessional examination of the marriage's failure that ranked as her most musically diverse effort to date."[4] The album was Cash's last for Columbia Records. It received considerable acclaim from critics, though neither of its two singles, "The Wheel" or "You Won't Let Me In", charted.

1995 - present: New York, New Albums and Books

Rosanne Cash at the 2006 South by Southwest

Cash settled in lower Manhattan, and in 1995 married producer/songwriter/guitarist John Leventhal, with whom she had co-produced The Wheel. She signed with Capitol Records, and in 1996 released 10 Song Demo, a collection of stark home recordings with minimal accompaniment. She also pursued a career as a writer, and in 1996 Hyperion published her short story collection Bodies of Water, to favorable reviews.[3] In 1997, Cash was awarded an honorary doctorate from Memphis College of Art. She gave the commencement address that year[14] and continues to work with college master classes in writing and speak to women's groups.

In 1998, she and Leventhal began working on what would later become Rules of Travel: the recording sessions were cut short when she became pregnant and was unable to sing for two and a half years, due to a polyp on her vocal cords.[10]

Unable to record, Cash focused on her writing: her children's book Penelope Jane: A Fairy's Tale, which included an exclusive CD, was published by Harper Collins in 2000, and in 2001 she edited a collection of short fiction by songwriters titled Songs Without Rhyme: Prose By Celebrated Songwriters.[3] Recovering her voice, she resumed recording and in 2003, released Rules of Travel, her first full-fledged studio album for Capitol. The album had guest appearances by Sheryl Crow and Steve Earle, a song cowritten by Joe Henry and Jakob Dylan, and the poignant "September When It Comes," a duet with her father.[6] Rules Of Travel was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.[15]

Cash was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.[16]

In 2005, Legacy Recordings reissued Seven Year Ache (1981), King's Record Shop (1987), and Interiors (1990), plus a new collection spanning 1979-2003, The Very Best Of Rosanne Cash.[17]

In 2006, Cash released Black Cadillac, an album marked by the loss of her stepmother, June, and father, Johnny, who both died in 2003; and her mother, Vivian, Johnny's first wife, who died as Rosanne finished the album in 2005.[18] The album was critically praised, and named to the top 10 lists of the New York Times,[19] Billboard,[20] PopMatters,[21] NPR [22] and other general interest and music publications. The album was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.[23]

Cash toured extensively in support of the album, and created a multimedia performance, with video, imagery and narration drawn from the songs and from Cash's family history.[24] In 2006, a short documentary by filmmaker Steve Lippman, Mariners and Musicians, based on the album and interviews with Cash, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was screened at festivals worldwide.[25] Cash's music was also featured prominently in an American Masters biography of photographer Annie Leibovitz, who has photographed Cash and her family numerous times.[26]

In late 2007, Cash underwent brain surgery for a rare benign condition (Chiari I malformation) and was forced to cancel her remaining concert dates.[27] After a successful recovery,[28] she resumed writing and live appearances. In 2008 she wrote for "Measure for Measure", the songwriters column in The New York Times[29], recorded with Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello,[30] and appeared on Costello's TV series Spectacle.[31]

Cash at an outdoor concert in 2009

Rosanne Cash released her next studio album, entitled The List, on October 6, 2009. The album is based on a list of 100 greatest country and American songs that Johnny Cash gave her when she was 18.[32] Rosanne has picked 12 songs out of the 100 for the album. The album features vocal duets with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy, and Rufus Wainwright. An iTunes Store-only 13th song features a duet with Neko Case.

In addition to her own recordings, Cash has made guest appearances on albums by Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Marc Cohn, The Chieftains, Willy Mason, and others, as well as children's albums by Larry Kirwan, Tom Chapin, and Dan Zanes and Friends. She has also appeared on tribute albums to Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, The Band, Tammy Wynette, Doc Pomus, Laura Nyro, Yoko Ono, John Hiatt and Jimi Hendrix.

In December 2009, it was announced that Cash would be portraying Monique in the upcoming album Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a collaboration between rock singer John Mellencamp and novelist Stephen King[33].

Personal life


Cash with John Leventhal in 2009

Cash's parents, Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto, were married in San Antonio, Texas in 1954. She has three younger sisters, Kathy, Cindy and Tara. Johnny and Vivian divorced in the 1960s, and he married June Carter in 1968. Cash's stepsister is country singer Carlene Carter, June Carter's daughter from her first marriage. Johnny and June's son John Carter Cash is Rosanne's half brother. Cash's father died in 2003; her mother died in 2005.[34]

Cash married country music singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell in 1979. They have three daughters: Caitlin, Chelsea and Carrie. Cash also raised Crowell's daughter from a previous marriage, Hannah. Cash and Crowell divorced in 1992. She married her second husband, John Leventhal in 1995, and they have one son, Jakob.[34] Cash lives with her husband, son and youngest daughter in Chelsea, Manhattan.

Chiari Malformation

On November 27, 2007, Cash was admitted to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital for brain surgery. In a press statement, she announced that she suffered from Chiari Malformation Type I and expected to "make a full recovery."[35] The surgery was successful,[36] though recovery was slow, and in March 2008 she was forced to cancel her spring tour dates for further recuperation. She wrote about the experience in her New York Times article "Well, Actually, It Is Brain Surgery".[37] She resumed writing, recording and performing in late summer of 2008.

Other projects

Rosanne Cash supports several charitable organizations. She is a longtime board member of PAX,[38] an organization dedicating to preventing gun violence among children. She was honored by PAX at their fifth annual benefit gala in 2005.[39]

Cash is active on behalf of SOS Children's Villages, which houses and cares for orphaned and abandoned children. The Cash family are long-term supporters of SOS. In the 1970s Johnny and June Cash donated property and financed the construction of a family house in Jamaica for SOS, and after their deaths the family established a memorial fund to benefit their work. In 2004, Cash accepted the SOS Children's Champion Award on behalf of her father for the Cash family's support of SOS Children's Villages.[40]. Cash sponsors a child through SOS.

She also sponsors three children through Children, Incorporated, which works to support and educate needy children and young adults worldwide.



  1. ^ Johnny Cash biography Sun; retrieved 01-01-09
  2. ^ Wolff, Kurt (2000). In Country Music: The Rough Guide. Orla Duane, Editor. London: Rough Guides Ltd. p. 465.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rosanne Cash: Biography; retrieved 01-01-09
  4. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason Rosanne Cash biography Allmusic; retrieved 1-01-09
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cash, Rosanne Country Century of Country; retrieved 01-01-09
  6. ^ a b c d e CMT biography - Rosanne Cash Country Music Television; retrieved 1-01-09
  7. ^ Johnson, Anne Janette Biography - Rosanne Cash Musician; retrieved 1-01-09
  8. ^ a b c d Irwin Stambler and Grelun Landon (2000). In Country Music: The Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan p. 80.
  9. ^ Rosanne Cash Charts and Awards Allmusic; retrieved 01-01-09
  10. ^ a b c Rosanne Cash biography; retrieved 1-01-09
  11. ^ Thom Jurek King's Record Shop-Overview; retrieved 01-01-09
  12. ^ a b Rosanne Cash Interview Pop Entertainment; retrieved 01-01-09
  13. ^ Thom Jurek Interiors-Overview Allmusic; retrieved 01-01-09
  14. ^ Jeffrey D. Nessin, President, Memphis College of Art: Commencement Ceremony, May 16, 1998, Memphis, TN Citation
  15. ^ CMT News: 2004 Grammy Nominations; retrieved 01-01-09
  16. ^ Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  17. ^ Rosanne Cash: Legacy Recordings; retrieved 01-01-09
  18. ^ Rosanne Cash Biography; retrieved 01-01-09
  19. ^ Rosanne Cash: Black Cadillac Reviews; retrieved 01-01-09
  20. ^ 2006 Critics' Choice; retrieved 01-01-09
  21. ^ PopMatters Picks: Best Country of; retrieved 01-01-09
  22. ^ John Schaefer's Best of 2006 Albums; retrieved 01-01-09
  23. ^ 2007 Grammy Nominations: The Complete List of Country Artists, Albums and Songs Country Music Television News & Updates; retrieved 1-01-09.
  24. ^ Rosanne Cash Eulogizes Johnny Cash at St. Ann's Warehouse NY; retrieved 01-01-09
  25. ^ Mariners and Musicians; retrieved 01-01-09
  26. ^ [ Annie Leibovitz Life Through A Lens] American Masters; retrieved 01-01-09
  27. ^ Rosanne Cash to Undergo Brain Surgery Country Music Television News & Updates; retrieved 1-01-09.
  28. ^ Rosanne Cash Recuperating From Brain Surgery Country Music Television & Updates; retrieved 1-01-09.
  29. ^ Measure for Measure Blog - NY NY; retrieved 01-01-09
  30. ^ The Ear of the Beholder-Measure for Measure NY; retrieved 01-01-09
  31. ^ Sundance Channel: Spectacle; retrieved 1-01-09
  32. ^ "Fresh Air from WHYY: Rosanne Cash Runs Down Her Father's 'List'". Fresh Air. NPR; WHYY. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b Rosanne Cash's personal life profile information NNDB: Tracking the entire world; retrieved 1-01-09.
  35. ^
  36. ^ Rosanne Cash Recuperating From Brain Surgery Country Music Television & Updates; retrieved 1-01-09.
  37. ^
  38. ^ PAX / Real Solutions to Gun Violence; retrieved 1-1-09.
  39. ^ PAX Benefit Gala to Honor Rosanne Cash; retrieved 1-1-09.
  40. ^ SOS "Rosanne Cash accepts award from Children's Charity". SOS Children's Villages. SOS. Retrieved 2007-06-29.  

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