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Dennis Cash Biography

Making of an Old Time Music Artist

       Dennis Cash was born in Lynchburg, VA on September 20, 1950. He is the oldest of four children born to Leslie and Ethel Mitchell Cash. Dennis' father loved music and was a major influence of his. He played guitar, autoharp, banjo and harmonica. He never played outside the family home - only for his own entertainment.

       Every weekend the family radio, which sat on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen, was tuned to WSM, WWVA or WCKY and good old "string music" filled the air. During his childhood many country artists had TV programs. If one was on the air, it was a good bet that the family TV was tuned in. Reno and Smiley's Top of the Mornin' Show on Roanoke's WDBJ played as Dennis got ready for school many mornings. Flatt and Scruggs, The Wilburn Brothers, Porter Wagner and many other country shows were on the air at that time.

      Bored while out of school for summer break around age 12, Dennis picked up his Dad's old arch top guitar. Using a mail order song book with a chord chart, he taught himself to play guitar. From then on he was hooked. He continued to learn other instruments and today plays guitar, bass, mandolin, autoharp, resonator guitar, and even a little banjo.

       In his early twenties, Dennis took his first paying job as a musician. He hired on as lead guitar player for a local country band. Through the early years of his adult life, he played both guitar and bass in many local groups whose music spanned country, folk, southern rock, old time, popular bluegrass and anything else that paid a buck or two. He also began to hone his vocal skills singing lead, tenor and baritone.

       In addition to his music, Dennis spent some time in school studying electrical engineering. He maintained a day job while continuing to play music.        From the 1970's through 1996 Dennis lived and worked in Virginia, California, New York, Tennessee and North Carolina. The early 70's also included a year living in France. His musical endeavors crossed many genres, but he kept returning to the music he grew up with: the roots music of the Carter Family; traditional bluegrass of people like Lester and Earl; traditional country music; and the gospel music that influenced all of these styles.

Carolina Sonshine

       After arriving in North Carolina, Dennis set out to start a bluegrass gospel band. He met a local NC musician named Wayne Ratley and together they launched Carolina Sonshine in 1997. Carolina Sonshine has been nominated by the SPBGMA organization in six consecutive years as the Traditional Gospel Band Of The Year. They were also invited as showcase artists at IBMA. The band has toured from Maine to Florida and as far west as Missouri and in Canada.

Carter Family Songs

       Some of the earliest music Dennis played was that of the original Carter Family. He played along with old 78 records, learning many of their songs. In 2007 Dennis recorded a solo project paying homage to the Carter Family called Songs of Home.

       Encouraged by friend and mentor Bill Clifton, who has called Cash “the leading proponent of Carter Family music”, he began work on a second album of Carter songs in 2012. The latest project, Sing Me A Carter Family Song, contains Dennis' interpretation of many fine songs introduced to the world by the Carter Family. The title cut, “A Carter Family Song”, was written for the project by Dixie and Tom T. Hall.



      In August, 2014, Dennis had the honor of being inducted in to America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame. The hall of fame was established "...In 1976, as a means to honor significant contributors to America's rural musical artforms on a local basis, over the years has progressed into a National forum to honor all those in the United States (and sometimes internationally) that have made significant contributions to what we call old time country music."



Hall of Fame
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