Don Cusic

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Don Cusic (born November 13, 1948 in Leonardtown, Maryland) is an American biographer, writer on music, historian of United States American popular music, songwriter, and record producer. He is the author of 25 books, most of them related to country music.

Biography[edit]

Don Cusic grew up in St. Mary’s County, Maryland and attended St. Mary’s College and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he graduated with a degree in Business and Public Administration (1972). After graduation he moved to Tennessee and became actively involved in the music industry the following year. Cusic served as staff writer for the Country Music Association, country and gospel editor for two trade magazines (Record World and Cashbox), head of artist development and international liaison for Monument Records and as an artist manager (with partner Dan Beck) for Riders In The Sky and Dickie Lee.

Cusic has written biographies of country artists Eddy Arnold, Roger Miller, Elvis Presley, Gene Autry, Riders in the Sky, Randy Travis and Reba McEntire and his book Discovering Country Music is a history of the genre as well as an overview of the current industry. He wrote biographical essays and edited books of lyrics on Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. His book, Saved by Song: A History of Gospel and Christian Music, was the first historical overview of contemporary Christian music. He has written two novels, Sharecropper's Son and a Civil War novel, Dressed in Grey & Blue.

In addition to his works on country music, Cusic has written two biographies of African-Americans, James Weldon Johnson: Songwriter[1] and The Trials of Henry Flipper, First Black Graduate of West Point.

He has written liner notes on albums by Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Ray Stevens, Bobby Bear, Lulu Belle & Scotty, Eddy Arnold, The Oak Ridge Boys, Sonny James, Gary Paxton, George Beverly Shea, Sheb Wooley, Floyd Cramer, Skeeter Davis, Jeanne Black, Roy Drusky, and Jimmy Long. He has also written liner notes for Sun Records 60th Anniversary Box Set, Word Gold: Five Decades of Hits, and Lift Every Voice: A Historical Collection of James Weldon Johnson Songs.

In addition to his articles, liner notes, and books, Don Cusic has written songs recorded by The Lewis Family, Lynn Morris, Bobby Bare, Peter Noone, Linda Davis, Eve Goldberg, Pam Mark Hall, Carroll Baker, Darrell McCall, Chris LeDoux, Ray Stevens and Jim Ed Brown. He produced the Bobby Bare Album, Darker Than Light and a collection of James Weldon Johnson songs performed by Melinda Doolittle. In addition to Bobby Bare and Melinda Doolittle, as a record Producer Cusic has produced recordings by Peter Noone, Jim Ed Brown and Mandy Barnett.

He has appeared a number of times on CMT programs, including the "Controversy" series, "Greatest Patriotic Songs," "Waiting in the Wings" and others; he appeared on a number of TNN shows, including "Life and Times of Eddy Arnold" and the A&E Biography Series (on Hank Williams). He also appeared on the BBC series "Lost Highway: The History of Country Music" and “White Gospel.” He has appeared in two films, Country Gold and Wish Me Away, the story of Chely Wright.

Cusic, Shannon Pollard and Cheetah Chrome are the founders of Plowboy Records, which began in 2012 as a heritage as well as contemporary rock label. Artists on the roster include Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, Ghost Wolves, Chuck Mead, Cheetah Chrome, JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers, the Fauntleroys and Paul Burch. [2] The label released a Tribute to Eddy Arnold album that featured artists Alejandro Escovedo, Mary Gauthier, Peter Noone, Mandy Barnett, Pokey LaFarge, Jason Isbell, Frank Back, Sylvain Sylvain, Lambchop, Drivin'N'Cryin', Chris Scruggs, Melinda Doolittle, The Bluefields, Bebe Buell, Bobby Bare, Jr., Chuck Mead, Jason Ringenberg, Lambchop, Cheetah Chrome and Pete Mroz performing songs made famous by Eddy Arnold. [3]Shannon Pollard is Eddy Arnold's grandson, Cheetah Chrome, a former member of Rocket From the Tombs and The Dead Boys is a punk icon, and Cusic is Eddy Arnold's biographer. [4] [5]

Don Cusic is the founding member and Chair of the Belmont Book Award, given each year to the best book on country music during the International Country Music Conference.[6] [7] He earned a Masters (1982) and Doctorate (1988) in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He is Curb Professor of Music Industry History and teaches in the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.[8]

Writings[edit]

Books[edit]

  • 2012: Roger Miller: Dang Him. Brackish Publishing. ISBN 9780985556167
  • 2012: Elvis and Nashville. Brackish Publishing. ISBN 9780985556136
  • 2012: Saved by Song: A History of Gospel and Christian Music. University Press of Mississippi
  • 2012: Dress in Grey & Blue: Walter Duncan's Memoirs and History of Nashville During the Civil War. Brackish Publishing. ISBN 9780985556129
  • 2011: Sharecropper's Son (Novel). Brackish Publishing. ISBN 9780615558219
  • 2011: The Cowboy in Country Music: An historical Survey with Artist Profiles. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786463145
  • 2010: Encyclopedia of Contemporary Music (Editor). Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313344251
  • 2009: The Trials of Henry Flipper. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company.
  • 2008: Discovering Country Music. New York: Praeger.
  • 2007: Gene Autry: his life and career. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company
  • 2004: Johnny Cash: the Songs. New York: Thunder's Mouth, a division of Avalon.
  • 2003: Baseball and Country Music. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • 2003: It's the Cowboy Way: the amazing true adventures of Riders in the Sky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
  • 2002: Merle Haggard: Poet of the Common Man. New York: Hal Leonard.
  • 2002: The Sound of Light: a history of Gospel and Christian music. New York: Hal Leonard.
  • 1997: Eddy Arnold: I'll Hold You in My Heart. Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill.
  • 1996: Music in the Market. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.
  • 1995: Willie Nelson: Lyrics 1957-1994. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • 1994: Cowboys and the Wild West: an A-Z guide from the Chisholm Trail to the Silver Screen. New York: Facts on File.
  • 1993: Hank Williams: the Complete Lyrics. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • 1991: The Poet as Performer. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.
  • 1991: Reba: Country Music's Queen. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • 1990: Randy Travis: the King of the New Country Traditionalists. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • 1988: Sandi Patti: the Voice of Gospel. New York: Doubleday.
  • 2013: James Weldon Johnson: Songwriter. Brackish Publishing. ISBN 9780985556181

Chapters in books[edit]

  • 2008: "Cowboys in Chicago". In: Chad Berry (ed.) The Hayloft Gang: the story of the National Barn Dance. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • 2007: "Music". In: Gary Hoppenstand, gen. ed.; Michael Schoenecke, vol. ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Popular Culture', Westport, CT: Greenwood; (p. 25).
  • 2007: "Johnny Cash and C. S. Lewis". In: Bob Batchelor (ed.) Literary Cash, Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books; (pp. 179–187).
  • 2006: "Loretta Lynn". In: Dennis and Susan Hall (eds.) Icons. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • 2006: "Johnny Cash". In: Dennis and Susan Hall (eds.) Icons. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • 2005: "Gene Autry in World War II". In Charles Wolfe and James Akenson (Ed.) Country Goes to War. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
  • 2002: "The Development of Gospel Music". In: Allan Moore (ed.) Cambridge Companion to Blues and Gospel Music. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • 1999: "Baseball and Country Music". In: Peter M. Rutkoff and Alvin Hall (eds.) The Cooperstown Symposium: 1999. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
  • 1998: "Country Green: the money in Country Music". In: Cecelia Tichi (ed.) Reading Country Music: steel guitars, Opry stars, and honky tonk bars. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Encyclopedia entries[edit]

  • 2006: The American Gospel Music Encyclopedia. ed. William K. McNeil. Routledge Press.
  • 2004: Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, ed. David J. Wishart, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
  • 2003: Encyclopedia of Protestantism; ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York: Routledge.
  • 2001: Guide to United States Popular Culture; ed. Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.
  • 1998: The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture; a project of the Tennessee Historical Society, ed. Carroll Van West. Nashville, Tenn.: Tennessee Historical Society; Rutledge Hill Press. ISBN 1-55853-599-3
  • 1998: Encyclopedia of Country Music; ed. Paul Kingsbury. New York: Oxford University Press.

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