top of page
  • Jesse Dvorak

Express Your Authentic Voice: The Johnny Cash Way

Johnny Ray Cash stood with guitar in hand before renown music producer Sam Philips.

This was the moment Johnny had been waiting for…

He and his band mates performed a gospel song about the love of God and the peace he feels in his heart.

But the performance was cut short by Mr. Philips.

He told a young Cash that he wasn’t interested.

That could have been the end to an American icon, but JR Cash inquired for more feedback.

He had been waiting, and dreaming of this moment for so long… he needed to know why he wasn’t good enough.

This moment is captured so powerfully in the scene from the film “Walk the Line”.

watch the scene (starting around 0:29):

It was at this moment that the truth would be revealed… the REAL TRUTH.

The famed producer challenged Johnny Cash’s authenticity (imagine that!).

Quite frankly...

he didn’t believe any of the words to what Cash was singing, so he responded:

“If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out in that gutter dying, and you only had time to sing…


One song people would remember before you’re dirt.

One song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on Earth.

One song that would sum you up…. Is that the song you’d sing?

Or would you sing something different?

Something real. Something YOU FELT.

Because I’m telling you, that’s the kind of song people want to hear.

That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.”

Johnny took a beat and proceeded to play “Folsom Prison Blues” where he uttered the famous phrase…

“I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

And that changed everything.

Cash became a legend and an icon, not because he emulated the gospel country singers that preceded him, but because we believed every word he sang was true.

He hit the world like a ton of bricks with his brutally honest poetry, and grave baritone voice that demanded the listeners attention.

We may have missed out on one of the most beloved artists of all time if Johnny had continued to try to fit the mold.

The same questions he had to answer, are the ones you have to answer for yourself as an artist.

This is the spirit that I channeled when I decided to make my first feature film that I wrote and directed, with almost no money.

I knew that if this was my ONE moment to say what I needed to say as an artist, then I would do it.

When I’m dead and gone, this remnant of my art, no matter what the market was asking for… would tell the viewer what was in my soul.

I wrote a poem as a film. A created a dream rather than a story.

While that may not have been the smartest career move, without this boldness and the action of saying the truth in MY heart…

I would never really have known my own identity as an artist.

This spirit -

the spirit of authenticity

is now one with who I am because I expressed my real voice.

There are so many other heroes of your own that you look towards as, not trend chasers…

but soul shakers.

Our work as artists is to embody that same spirit of the ones we admire, but find our own unique frequency instead of copying a style.

So encourage you creators to stop looking at the externals.

Drop into the core of your own heart and soul then speak from that spiritual center.

It is the only truth to stand in.

Everything else is a feigned performance hoping that people will like you and approve of your talents.

That is not the calling of an artist.

The artist is called to venture into the personal void that the rest of the world dare not enter...

then give voice to the truths that feel dangerous, illicit, and deeply intimate in your own specific way. “

Draw it.

Play it.

Sing it.

Write it.

No one will care about your art, until you have something you’re willing to die to say with it.

So if you had one song, one painting, one story… that you could tell before you become dirt and forgotten…

What is that?

Venture there, and you will find your real voice.

That’s the kind of art that truly saves people… it may just save yours.

Jesse Dvorak.

Art & Void: Elevating Artists. Mind Body & Spirit.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page