The Coldwell Banker Elite Lecture
Johnny Cash was one of the most important and influential musical and cultural figures in American history. Over a career that spanned a half-century, he placed nearly 100 records on the charts, 13 of which reached Number One; received 19 Grammy Awards; was presented with the Kennedy Center Honor and the National Medal of Arts; and is a member of the Country Music, Rock 'n' Roll, Songwriters, Rockabilly and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Born into a sharecropping family in 1932, J.R. Cash learned early a respect for the land, the meaning of hard work and heartbreak, and a reverence for God --constants that would remain with him all his life. From his earliest recordings at Sun Records, to the iconic concept and prison albums, to a remarkable late-career renaissance and noble final testament, Cash's music truly captured the essence of the American spirit.
But, as prolific as these professional accomplishments were, Johnny Cash led an equally epic life. His triumphs and tragedies were outsized, played out for all to see, and became as legendary as his music. More than 12 years after his death in 2003, he still casts a gigantic shadow, having left behind a legacy of artistry and humanity that continues to entertain, inspire, and instruct.
Speaker: Mark Stielper
Mark Stielper graduated from Loyola University in Baltimore with a bachelor's degree in history. He has chronicled the life and times of Johnny Cash for more than 45 years, beginning with a "lecture" delivered to his 8th grade classmates. Today, he is recognized as the foremost Cash scholar, having been anointed "the family historian" by the singer himself. Their friendship spanned three decades, and included collaborations on Cash's autobiography, song annotations and album notes, and the curating of memorabilia in the House of Cash Museum. Stielper was a pallbearer at the funeral of June Carter Cash, the only non-family member chosen by her husband. After Cash's own death, Stielper was given the sensitive task of cataloguing Cash's office and personal items.
In addition to "Cash: The Autobiography," Stielper has been involved in nearly a dozen Cash books, including "The Man Called Cash" (2005); "Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash" (2007); and "Johnny Cash: The Life" (2013). His current project, "Becoming 'Johnny Cash': How Man, Music and Myth Built the Legend," is due in 2017.
Stielper's speaking credits include Belmont and Vanderbilt Universities in Nashville; the Fender Center for the Performing Arts in Corona, Calif.; and the Johnny Cash Museum. He has served as an advisor to Sotheby’s Auction House in New York; Nashville's Frist Center for the Performing Arts; and four motion pictures, and he provided archival material for the Academy Award®-winning film, "Walk the Line." Most recently, he was seen in the CMT documentary, "Johnny Cash: American Rebel."