Johnny Cash was still a teenager when his vocal coach told him to quit lessons, so his style remains undiluted.
Little did anyone know he would rise to become one of the most beloved and successful singers in the history of music, despite being untrained.
So, how can you learn to sing like Johnny Cash?
Well, you’ll find answers right on this page. Just before we get started on this at all.
Here’s our genesis.
What Makes Johnny Cash An Exceptional Singer?
Learning how to sing like Johnny Cash goes beyond lip-syncing his songs or memorizing his verses.
Every John and Mary down the block can do that. What you must do first is to understand the things that accumulated to his recognition as both “The Man In Black” and the prolific singer with a distinct sound.
Here we go:
- Johnny Cash has a deep, gravelly, calm bass-baritone voice.
- He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 90 million records worldwide.
- The strong fort of Cash’s songs lies in his inimitable style and emotion.
- Cash’s vocal range spans A1 – G5.
- Johnny can sing in 3.8 octaves.
- He was also very talented at singing notes, occasionally dropping into F#1.
These are important pieces of information you must note before you learn how to sing like Johnny Cash.
With that cleared out of the way, we can now proceed to the step-by-step approach to singing like the legendary singer from a cotton farm in Arkansas.
This Is How To Sing Like Johnny Cash
Even after reading this piece and putting in the required amount of effort and patience necessary to make your desired changes, the chances that you fail to sound exactly like Johnny Cash exist.
The reasons are:
- Because of biological differences in human beings.
- Due to differences in the level of emotions coursing through each individual as he/she sings.
- Testosterone hormone is responsible for voice maturity. Therefore, the more testosterone your body secretes, the deeper your voice sounds.
Have you got that, right?
Master singing low
This is Johnny Cash’s trademark singing style. Johnny’s rich baritone voice is characterized by singing low pitches with so much depth that makes you wonder if he is actually singing rock.
Well, he is.
The ability to sing low is not natural for everyone, so you have to put hours into expanding your vocal range to see changes happen.
These are helpful tips for doing this:
First of all, identify your present vocal range. Good for you, there are many apps on the internet that can help you achieve this.
- Practice speaking low notes.
- Find a song by Johnny Cash where he sings lowly and try to imitate him.
- Learn to sing on pitch.
- Strengthen your lower range by powering it from your diaphragm.
While singing in your lower range, avoid lowering your larynx forcefully. As much as this helps you to sing lower, it doubles down on the strain that is considered optimal for the voice.
We don’t want you sounding like a Yogi bear, right?
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and others recorded a song together in the 90’s
Learn how to do vocal fry
Vocal fry is essentially singing low until your voice begins to cackle. Get it? Do you remember the sound that comes out when you wake from a slumber?
That rattling sound!
Yes, that’s what vocal fry is. And as a singer who wants to sound like Cash, you must learn how to engage the use of your vocal fry at will anytime you’re singing Johnny Cash’s songs or yours that require fry.
Everyone from Britney Spears to Tom Waits to make their music sound cooler and more emotional have also used vocal fry in singing
- Practice the “ahhhhh” sound under the pretense that you’re just waking up
- Now hold the note for a long period without adding compression or strain to your voice
- Drink lots of water to keep your vocal cords moist
- Enjoy a healthy lifestyle
- Finally, do not overuse the vocal fry. It may become your worst nightmare.
Knowing how to do vocal fry alone is not enough, you must learn how to use it smoothly in your singing. Transitioning from one note to another requires you to be sleek with how you go about switching notes.
Johnny’s transitioning was so much perfect that he sounded so natural anytime he is switching notes.
Johnny Cash does not jump right on to the note he wants to sing. He slowly approaches the note from the lowest note until he reaches his desired note.
We know this technique as scooping.
For instance, he deployed this technique at the beginning of “Ring of Fire” where he scooped the following words, love, burning, and thing.
Above everything else, this is an important step you can’t skip if you want to see changes in your vocal style.
Practice makes perfect, or so they say.
Designate a couple of minutes to practice every day. And do not fall for the temptation of skipping any day. It would surely affect your progress.
Practice with Johnny Cash’s songs since you are trying to sing like him. These are some of his songs to choose from:
- I walk the line
- Ring of fire
- Sunday morning coming down
- Man in black
- Cry, cry, cry
- Big river
- Folsom Prison Blues
5 Interesting Revelations About Johnny Cash
- Johnny Cash cannot be defined by one genre. He dazzled ears with rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, folk, and gospel, and exerted an influence on each of those genres.
- He is a member of five major music halls of fame: the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1980), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992), GMA’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2010). and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2013).
- Johnny Cash wrote over 1,000 songs and released dozens of albums.
- He regularly performed in entirely black clothing hence they nicked him “The Man In Black”
- Cash was taught how to play the guitar by his mother and another childhood friend.
Wonder what’s next?
Learning how to sing like Johnny Cash is not a bad idea. After all, he is one of the greatest singers of all time. However, you should not aim to be his imitation.
Let your uniqueness shine through even as you add his techniques to your vocal repertoire. You can even be greater than him, who knows?