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June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash (née Valerie June Carter) (June 23, 1929 - May 15, 2003), middle daughter of Ezra (Eck) Carter and Maybelle Carter (Mother Maybelle), was a singer, songwriter, a member of the nation's first country music recording stars, the Carter Family, and married to legendary singer Johnny Cash. She was born in Maces Springs, Virginia and played guitar, banjo, and autoharp.

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With the Carter Family In the winter of 1938-1939 the Carter Family travelled to Texas where they had a twice-daily program on border radio station XERA (later XERF) in Villa Acuña (now Ciudad Acuña), Mexico, across the border from Del Rio, Texas. Then in school, June did not accompany them. Beginning with the 1939/1940 season, June joined the Carters, this time in San Antonio, Texas, where the group's work was pre-recorded and distributed to multiple border radio stations (XELO, XEG, XERB, and XEPN). June's musical contribution to the group consisted of her autoharp playing.

In Fall, 1942, the Carters moved their program to WBT radio in Charlotte, North Carolina for a one year contract. They occupied the sunrise slot with the program airing between 5:15 and 6:15 a.m. June attended Paw Creek High School following the show on weekdays.

With Mother Maybelle & the Carter Sisters In March, 1943, when the Carter Family trio stopped recording together after the WBT contract, Maybelle Carter, with encouragement from her husband Ezra, formed Mother Maybelle & the Carter Sisters with her daughters Helen, Anita, and June. The new group first aired on radio station WRNL in Richmond, Virginia on June 1, 1943. June attended John Marshall High School during this period. In 1946, they moved to more powerful, semi clear-channel WRVA in the same city. In 1948, the group left Richmond and returned to Maces Springs.

After a short stay in southwest Virginia, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters headed off to Knoxville, Tennessee where they had yet another radio contract on WNOX. Here they met and teamed with a young Chet Atkins. In 1949, the family travelled to Springfield, Missouri where they entertained on KWTO.

Ezra Carter declined Grand Ole Opry offers to move the family to Nashville, Tennessee a number of times because the Opry would not permit Chet Atkins to accompany the group. Finally, in 1950 Opry management relented and the group, along with Atkins, became part of the Opry company. Here the family befriended Hank Williams and Elvis Presley and June would meet Johnny Cash.

With her thin and lanky frame June often played a comedic foil during the group's performances alongside other Opry stars Faron Young[?] and Webb Pierce[?].

On her own In the mid-1950s June studied at The Actor's Studio in New York City and stayed with Elia Kazan and his wife in their apartment. During this period, she became close friends with Robert Duvall and dated James Dean.

June's first husband was singer Carl Smith[?] and they were married from 1952 to 1957. Their daughter Rebecca Carlene Smith (known professionally as Carlene Carter[?]) was born in 1955 and is a country singer. Her second husband was Edwin "Rip" Nix, and they had a daughter, Rozanna. June married her third husband, Johnny Cash, in 1968, and they had a son, John.

With Johnny Cash In 1967 she and then future husband Johnny won a Grammy Award in the Best Country & Western Performance, Duet, Trio Or Group (vocal or instrumental) category for the song, "Jackson"'. In 1970 they won again in the Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category for the song, "If I Were a Carpenter".

She played the part of Mrs. "Momma" Dewey in Robert Duvall's 1997 movie The Apostle.

In 1999 she won a Grammy Award for her album, Press On[?].

She died in Nashville, Tennessee from complications following heart valve surgery two years after she had a pacemaker implanted.


  • Among my klediments, June Carter Cash, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1979. ASIN 0310381703, ISBN 0-310-38170-3
  • In the Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music, Nicholas Dawidoff, Vintage Books, 1998. ISBN 0-375-70082-x
  • Will you miss me when I'm gone? : the Carter Family and their legacy in American music, Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg, New York, Simon & Schuster, c2002

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