Sound/Style: Inspirational songs in proto-rock 'n' roll and country styles
Religious themes are commonplace in country music, but what distinguishes the work of Johnny Cash is his seamless integration of country and gospel, which he accomplished with originality and integrity. Cash’s rebel persona might seem incongruous with his heart for inspirational music, but his refusal to compromise his artistic freedom led to his first all-gospel release. Cash had wanted to cut such an album while on Sun Records in the mid-1950s but was denied the opportunity, a fact that strongly influenced his move to Columbia Records in 1958. Hymns By Johnny Cash featured standards as well as Cash originals, delivered in the stark, straightforward style that would forever define the Man in Black as an artist who defied musical boundaries.