Wednesday, May 02, 2007

June Carter Cash : Her Story

For millions of fans around the world, June Carter Cash was the endearing mountain-born pioneer of country music who basked in the stage spotlight for over fifty years and was associated with such timeless standards as "Ring of Fire" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" To her loved ones and friends, she was an "angel of Appalachia," a radiant light and a driving force that unified her family through thick and thin--her favorite phrase was "press on." She enjoyed a creative, fruitful partnership with husband Johnny Cash and was an invaluable, talented member of the Carter Family, but the late performing and songwriting legend has surprisingly never been the subject of her own full-length biography . . . until now.

Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash (Thomas Nelson) is an inside, personal look at the accomplished life of June Carter Cash, as seen through the eyes of her only child with Johnny Cash--John Carter Cash. With skillful prose, Cash covers the peaks of her career--from her early fame with the Carter Family to her two-time Grammy Award-winning album Wildwood Flower in 2003. He offers a personal, rich retelling of her private life as well--chronicling her childhood in Appalachia, her failed marriages, her romance with Johnny Cash, and the many other ups and downs that followed, including the never-before-told story of her own drug addiction in the last years of her life. Throughout, the book paints a dramatic portrait of struggle and success, and how the power of true love can overcome all obstacles. Cash also reveals brand-new information about his mother from his own tender memories and heartwarming stories, as well as anecdotes from celebrity friends and other family members, including previously untold details about June and Johnny's final days before their deaths in 2003.

The book will be published June 19, 2007--a few days before what would have been her seventy-eighth birthday.

"I hope through these pages, people may come to know my mother in some of the ways I have known her, that though they may read of her pain, they will see her strength and beauty, most of all," says John Carter Cash.

June Carter Cash was born into one of the first families of country music--the Carter Family-in the rugged mountains of Maces Springs, Virginia on June 23, 1929. Onstage at a very young age, she performed with her mother, Maybelle Carter, and her two sisters. With their pure, rootsy songs of Americana, the group was warmly welcomed all around the country. Despite her lovely voice, June felt that she could barely carry a tune, so she compensated by using her down-home sense of humor to make audiences laugh. Along with her beautiful autoharp strumming, charismatic dancing, over-the-top character imitations and savvy skills in promoting sponsors' products, she was the perfect entertainer and a consummate professional.

As June matured, her confidence and spirit gained lots of admirers, including popular guitarist and singer Johnny Cash in the late 1950s. Intriguingly, the book discusses the possibility of another suitor: Elvis Presley, with whom Cash had a rivalry over the years. She and Elvis were said to have a mutual attraction when they were on the road together, and once the tour was over, he would stay over her house to "rest," according to her first husband. Either way, it was a fleeting romance. Her kinship to Johnny would prove to be very powerful and June would become his helpmate and closest companion. As depicted in the recent Oscar-winning film, "Walk the Line"--for which John Carter Cash was the executive producer--their courtship was lengthy, since both were separated from their own respective spouses and had children. They ended up being married for forty years, through tragedy and triumph.

In this book John Carter Cash sheds insight on life in the Cash household. He was very close to his mom, who ensured that he was treated by his six older half sisters as their little brother--there were no "halves" and "steps" in the Cash family. She was also a tender mother, who was always forgiving of her kids' errors and misdeeds. John Carter describes joyful experiences with his parents, such as meeting noted celebrities and dignitaries like John Wayne and Anwar Sadat, and working as a producer on his mom's last few albums. Yet he also discusses his tragic, near-death incidents, including a car accident and being held at gunpoint at their mansion in Jamaica, while his parents watched in horror.

The Cash family may have seemed like the country equivalent of Camelot, but as this memoir reveals, drugs were an underlying force. In addition to Johnny's storied dalliances with prescription drugs from the 1960s to the end of his life, which would lead to heated fights and friction between he and June--all of June's own children--Rosey, Carlene, and John Carter--developed problems with drugs and/or alcohol, and June was supportive as they battled their worst demons. Yet most shockingly, the book reveals that June, too, battled with her own addiction to pain killers, starting in 1993 and lasting right up to her death. Her son talks about how she braved chronic pain in her legs and suffered a back injury earlier in life, which may have contributed to her strong dependence on pills. Lastly, he talks about the impact of his dad's addictions on their lives through new, choice anecdotes: He describes one particular incident in the 1980s when he shared a hotel room with his dad and noticed his uneven breathing during his sleep. John Carter was afraid that his father had died, and he and his mom had to drag Johnny into the shower to revive him.

Dealing with her family's addictions, June was a source of stability, guidance and spirituality. It was she who initiated Johnny's first intervention in 1983 and would help encourage him to clean up by reading him psalms from the Bible. Says John Carter in the story, "Mom was loving and generous, thoughtful and caring, and she could always find a reason to look up, to believe that the best in a person would eventually come out . . . It was as if she could see through the veil of misery. Although the spirit of disease might torment her loved ones, sometimes making us hard and vicious, she saw beyond that ugliness into the heart of her child and husband, finding the beauty within us."

The publication of Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash (Thomas Nelson) coincides with the release of an all-star tribute CD, Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash (Dualtone Music Group) which was conceived and produced by John Carter Cash. The 12-track disc features songs written by or associated with the beloved singer and performed by an eclectic collection of family and friends that include Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Ralph Stanley, Brad Paisley, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver, The Peasall Sisters and Billy Bob Thornton, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn, Grey DeLisle, Patty Loveless and Kris Kristofferson. The album will be released June 5, 2007.