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Voices of the Spirit, Gospel of the South is an album dedicated to the unshakable faith and spirit that June Carter and Johnny Cash shared throughout their marriage, and is a celebration of their love for traditional gospel music. Produced by son John Carter Cash, this classic collection showcases hymns that were Cash family favorites, now newly recorded by close friends and loved ones of the legendary family. Gathering at the rustic Cash Cabin Studios, this compilation brings together Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Mavis Staples, Larry Gatlin, Earl & Randy Scruggs, Rodney Crowell, Ronnie and Del McCoury, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and more.
This tribute to the artistry and transcendence of gospel music was compiled by Johnny Cash and June Carter’s son John, and features one of the last song that Johnny recorded. In addition to his dad, who delivers a shaky but beautiful “Uncludy Day,” there are new recordings from Del McCoury, Mavis Staples with Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, and Rodney Crowell. John Carter Cash has a good grasp of gospel, and it’s a wide definition of the stuff, one that crosses the barriers between African-American and “Southern” (white) gospel. He initially was inspired to put together a tribute to the Appalachian gospel sounds he grew up with, the kind of stuff his grandmother’s group the Carter Family collected and recorded. In researching the project, he discovered the amazing sanctified blues artists Arizona Dranes and Washington Phillips, as well as dozens of obscure bluegrass artists. Thanks to his familial connections, Carter Cash was able to assemble an impressive array of heavy hitter types to sing these powerful and inspiring tunes. Who ever thought we’d get to hear Vince Gill cover Wash Phillips’ impossibly beautiful and obscure “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today,” and that it would be so pure, so free of maudlin emotion? There’s a warmth, and a magnanimousness, to this project that’s refreshing. –Mike McGonigal