How To Sing Like Johnny Cash (5 Brilliant Tips)

Published Categorized as Singing

Johnny Cash was an American singer and songwriter who was a major influence on country and western music.

Popularly known as ‘The Man In Black’ for his all black wardrobe, Johnny Cash is one of the best selling artists of all time with over 90 million copies sold. 

His signature songs include; ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ which was his regular opening song and ‘I Walk The Line’.

Known for his calm bass-baritone voice, his songs spanned several genres of music including rocknroll, gospel, blues, country and rockabilly.

His music is still a major influence till today and today we will discuss Johnny Cash’s voice type and vocal range, how he started singing and how to sing like him. 

What Are The Steps Needed To Sing Like Johnny Cash?

How To Sing Like Johnny Cash
  1. Learn to Sing Low

A major trademark of Johnny Cash is his ability to sing really low in his range.

This ability is not natural to everyone and you might require some practice and voice lessons before you are able to achieve that.

  1. Sing Low Pitches Brighty

Another unique point of Johnny Cash’s singing is the fact that he sings at a low range with a bright timbre.

He always sang slowly with his voice sounding bright and happy and not in any way gloomy or distressed.

  1. Know How To Switch Between Notes

Johnny Cash often employed the use of vocal fry at the start of his songs before switching to his normal singing voice.

First you have to learn to use vocal fry in your singing and then perfect the switch to your normal voice while still sounding natural. 

  1. Practice

Practice is important to help you achieve your desired voice goals and objectives. Take voice lessons. Listen to Johnny Cash’s songs obsessively.

Watch his performances. Sing anywhere you can from the shower stall to the bedroom or kitchen.

This process will help you build up your voice and in time you will be able to sing like Johnny Cash.  

Here is an article I wrote on how to sing like Julian Casablancas

What Voice Type Does Johnny Cash Have?

Johnny Cash was renowned for his rich baritone voice, which spanned a range of three octaves and eight notes distinguished by a low range and tonal depth.

What Makes Johnny Cash’s Voice So Unique?

Truth is, Johnny Cash did not possess an exceedingly super duper voice but his voice had character and warmth.

Johnny Cash appears to have lacked a technically superior voice as well as a wide range however one thing he did have was style. 

He possessed a distinct voice that didn’t sound like that of anyone else’s. 

Johnny and his other band members Luther, Red, and Marshall weren’t particularly accomplished musicians, especially at the early stages, however their infamous ‘boom chicka boom’ sound was a perfect complement to Johnny’s deep baritone.

It was straightforward, but it was innovative, unique, and compelling.

Can Johnny Cash Actually Sing?

Johnny Cash was a one-of-a-kind singer who was able to mix in a variety of musical genres in his recordings and come up with a near perfect sound.

Johnny Cash was a technically correct singer as he didn’t have voice lessons but his voice came out as natural.

He possessed the warmth and character with which he connected to most of his audiences till today. He also had his own authentic timbre which set him apart from any other musician in the industry.

He could also sing well in tune and had a good sense of pitch, that combined with his style and character made him not only a conventionally good singer but one of the greatest of all time. 

How Did Johnny Cash Start Singing?

Cash grew up listening to Southern music, such as hymns and folk ballads.

During his military service in the early 1950s, he also learned to play the guitar and began writing songs. He got an audition with Sun Records’ Sam Phillips, who signed him in 1955. 

Songs like “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “Hey, Porter,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “I Walk the Line” drew him a lot of attention, and by 1957, he was the top recording artist in the country and western genres.

By the early 1960’s his career began to wane due to drug addiction but by the late 1960’s he had worked to get his career back on track and was more popular with a wider audience.

His career got a major breakthrough when he performed his album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison live in front of prison inmates in 1968.

His follow up album Johnny Cash at San Quentin in 1969, also served to shed light on the conditions of prisons in America and helped to improve his popularity.

By the 1980s’ he experienced diminishing commercial sales but got another resurgence in 1994 when he got signed on to American Recordings.

American Recordings, Cash’s first album under the label, was a critical success and won him a new audience. Unchained (1996), American III: Solitary Man (2000), American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002), and the posthumous American V: A Hundred Highways (2006) were his last set of albums.

Also check out this article I wrote on how to sing like Noel Gallagher

What Is Johnny Cash’s Vocal Range?

Johnny Cash has a three octave and eight notes vocal range spanning D2- B5.

He was more often comfortable in his low register which was strong, manly and rich.

There have been many controversies by modern day experts on whether he could actually sing higher than that.

The most likely case was he built his voice on the part of the range he was good at and which he was most comfortable with and this helped to distinguish him from other singers of that time. 

What Is The Highest Note Johnny Cash Can Sing?

Johnny Cash’s highest pitch is in the song ‘Daddy Sang Bass’ ending on a B5 note.

Johnny Cash didn’t make use of his head voice very often even though there is cause to believe he had an extensive range.

He most often focused on the lower end of his range and even though some have classified his voice as average, he was still a legend that brought his best to the game. 

What Are Some Classic Johnny Cash Songs To Practice?

  • I Walk The Line: I Walk the Line which is one of Johnny Cash’s signature songs was actually written for his first wife, Vivian Liberto. The song became his  first No. 1 hit in 1956, and it is a major trademark of Johnny Cash and is inseparably connected with Cash and his legacy.
  • Folsom Prison Blues: “Folsom Prison Blues” was first recorded by Johnny Cash in 1956, it  was his third single on Sun Records and peaked at No. 4 at the time of release.  The live performance from the 1968’s Seminal At Folsom Prison album, however, has become legendary. We see Johnny Cash performing the song to over 2000 inmates of the prison with so much pervasive energy.
  • Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash’s second wife, June Carter, wrote Ring of Fire, which addressed their personal problems at the time. It went on to become the number one hit single in the United States. and was inducted into the Grammy Song Hall of Fame later on.

Conclusion

Johnny Cash lived a long fulfilled life as is evidenced with his successful music career with his best selling records and multiple award wins. 

His music spanned several genres and in the end he got inducted into the Gospel Music, Country Music as well as the Rock and Roll Halls of Fame which is a rare opportunity.

With his deep baritone voice, Johnny Cash enthralled audiences and established a name for himself.

By Sophie Collins

Hi my name is Sophie, I am a Singer, Producer and Instrumentalist. I also love to bake and get creative with my hands. When I am not strumming my guitar, you can find me reading a good book with a glass of wine in my hands.

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