In 1978, Johnny Cash took the stage to perform a heartfelt rendition of a holiday classic as part of his televised Christmas special. The legendary country star was accompanied by his daughters, Rosanne, Cindy, Tara, and Kathy, and his stepdaughters, Carlene and Rosie. Together they sang “Silent Night” in dedication to the mother of his wife, June Carter. Maybelle Carter, who was a member of the famous Carter Family act, passed away in October 1978.
“Our family comes to Christmas without ‘Mother’ Maybelle Carter. June’s mother and a member of that trio, the Carter Family, became the first family of country music over 50 years ago,” Cash told the crowd before the performance.
He also explained why the song was the perfect choice, adding, ” ‘Mother’ Maybelle loved the spiritual songs. They recorded a lot of them and they loved the songs of Christmas.” Like the time Cash sang “It Ain’t Me Babe” with Carter and “Were You There” with the Carter ladies, this performance is one to remember.
Cash and the women all lined up to sing the famous lyrics in perfect unison. Their performance was a perfect way to emphasize the importance of family during the season of giving. His baritone voice as he speaks brings back so many memories for me, including being in Nashville for his funeral. What a sad day for country music.
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