In the 19 years since country music legend Johnny Cash's death, Hollywood has released a major motion picture and multiple documentaries about the so-called Man in Black.
None, though, have examined his Christian faith as deeply as does an upcoming documentary, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon. Releasing in theaters Dec. 5, 6 and 7, the film includes interviews with friends and family, including son John Carter Cash and sister Joanne Cash Yates. Kingdom Story Company – the same company that made faith-based movies I Can Only Imagine and American Underdog – produced it.
John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny and June Cash, is an executive producer.
"It's always been something that I wanted to see happen – to have a faith-based documentary, a documentary about my father that had the central focus on his faith. It was just what was most important to him," John Carter Cash told Christian Headlines.
The documentary takes viewers back to Johnny Cash's Arkansas hometown and explores the tragedies that shaped his life. It follows his journey to stardom and reveals how Christ saved him from himself when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. On multiple occasions, Cash nearly died. The film also discusses his friendship with Billy Graham.
It includes audio recordings of Johnny Cash that have never been heard outside the Cash family.
"Those recordings had come to us over the past few years, and so that was important that he speak his own story," John Carter Cash said, adding that he wanted a film that had "energy" and a "purpose behind it."
It also includes interviews with Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, Alice Cooper, Jimmie Allen, Franklin Graham and Greg Laurie. Marty Stuart narrated it. Ben Smallbone directed it.
"At the top of his game, when he did not have to sing the songs of faith, of the Spirit, he did it anyway," John Carter Cash said. "When he had the live Johnny Cash television show, he stood up against the producers, and he said, 'I'm doing this – this is the way it is.' He had a number one show there for a little while. Eventually, the show went off the air, but he did not stop giving forth his effort to profess his Christian faith every step of the way."
Photo courtesy: ©Kingdom Story Company/Fathom, used with permission
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.