Fifty-one years ago, Johnny Cash was emerging from one of the lowest ebbs in his personal life and in his already-legendary career in country music. With the electrifying live album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and a groundbreaking network TV series on the horizon, Cash was on his way to becoming an American icon. On November 11th, YouTube Originals will premiere the documentary film The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash, a searing portrait of the Man in Black, whose personal character and bold artistry were shaped by deep spirituality and unshakable tragedy.
Helmed by Emmy- and Grammy-winning director Thom Zimny (Elvis Presley: The Searcher, Springsteen on Broadway), the 90-minute film features a wealth of recently discovered archival materials and includes interviews with family members as well as several of Cash’s musical collaborators and friends, including fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris, who says, “He had a message and his message was the truth about being alive in this world.” Cash, whose legacy was explored extensively in the recent Ken Burns series Country Music, died in 2003 at age 71. Two years later, he was the subject of the Oscar-winning film Walk the Line.
The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash, which debuted in March at the SXSW Film Festival and screened recently at the Telluride Film Festival, will be screened at the 50th Annual Nashville Film Festival on Monday, October 7th. It will also include an original composition written and performed by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.
YouTube Originals, which spotlight YouTube creators as well as major Hollywood stars, offer scripted and unscripted series and films for the web service’s viewers worldwide. The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash will be available for free on YouTube beginning Monday, November 11th.