Although Cash is often classified as a country artist, her music draws on many genres, including folk, pop, rock and blues. In the 1980s, she had a string of chart-topping singles, which crossed musical genres and landed on both C&W and Top 100 charts.
Her biggest hit was her 1981 breakthrough hit "Seven Year Ache," which topped the U.S. country singles charts and reached the Top 30 on the U.S. pop singles charts.
In 1990, Cash released Interiors, a spare, introspective album which signaled a new direction for her. The following year Cash ended her marriage and moved from Nashville to New York City, where she continues to write, record and perform.
Since 1991 she has released five albums, written two books and edited a collection of short stories. Her fiction and essays have been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Oxford-American, New York Magazine, and other periodicals and collections.
She won a Grammy in 1985 for "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me," and has received nine other Grammy nominations. She has had 11 #1 country hit singles, 21 Top 40 country singles and two gold records.
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Cash was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955, just as father Johnny was recording his first tracks at Sun Records. The family moved to California in 1958, first to Los Angeles, then Ventura, where Cash and her sisters were raised by mother Vivian.
After graduating from high school, she joined her father's road show for two and a half years, first as a wardrobe assistant, then as a background vocalist and occasional soloist.
In 1976, Cash briefly worked for CBS Records in London before returning to Nashville to study English and drama at Vanderbilt University, then relocated to Los Angeles to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Hollywood. She recorded a demo in January 1978 with Emmylou Harris' songwriter/sideman Rodney Crowell, which led to a full album with German label Ariola Records.
Her self-titled debut album was recorded in 1978, but Ariola never released it in the U.S. and has since become a collector's item. Mainly recorded and produced in Munich, Germany with German-based musicians, it also included three tracks recorded in Nashville.
Although Cash was unhappy with the album, it attracted the attention of Columbia Records, who offered her a recording contract. She began playing with Crowell's band The Cherry Bombs in California clubs, they married in 1979, and Cash started work on her first Columbia LP.
The album, Right or Wrong, was released in early 1980, and produced three Top 25 singles.The first, "No Memories Hangin' Around," a duet with country singer Bobby Bare, reached 17 on the Country Singles chart in 1979. It was followed by "Couldn't Do Nothin' Right" and "Take Me, Take Me" in 1980.
Cash and Crowell moved to Nashville in 1981. Cash's career picked up considerable momentum with the release of her second album, Seven Year Ache that same year. The album achieved critical raves and solid sales, and the title track was a #1 hit on the Billboard Country Chart, and crossed over to the Billboard Pop Chart, peaking at #22.
The album yielded two additional #1 country hits, "My Baby Thinks He's a Train" and "Blue Moon with Heartache," and was certified Gold by the RIAA.
Cash's third album, Somewhere in the Stars was considered a disappointment after the commercial success of Seven Year Ache. The album still reached the Top 100 of the US pop album charts, and included three US country chart singles, "Ain't No Money," "I Wonder" and "It Hasn't Happened Yet."
Cash struggled with substance abuse during this time. After a three-year hiatus, Cash released her fourth studio album, Rhythm & Romance in 1985, which yielded two #1 hits, "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me" and "Never Be You," and two other Country Top 10 singles.
In 1990, Cash released the critically acclaimed, deeply personal Interiors. Cash produced herself for the first time, and wrote or co-wrote all the songs. Though it may have been inspired by the breakup of her marriage, it also signified her departure from Nashville and its country music establishment.
In 1991 Cash relocated to New York City; in 1992, she and Crowell divorced. The Wheel, released in 1993, was "an unflinchingly confessional examination of the marriage's failure that ranked as her most musically diverse effort to date." The album was Cash's last for Columbia Records.
Cash settled in lower Manhattan, and in 1996 Hyperion published her short story collection Bodies of Water, to favorable reviews. In 1997, Cash was awarded an honorary doctorate from Memphis College of Art.
In 2006, Cash released Black Cadillac, an album marked by the loss of her stepmother, June, and father, Johnny, who both died in 2003; and her mother, Vivian, Johnny's first wife, who died as Rosanne finished the album in 2005. The album received rave reviews.
On November 27, 2007, Cash announced that she suffered from Chiari Malformation Type I. Surgery was successful, though recovery was slow.
Cash released her studio album, The List, in October 2009. The album is based on a list of 100 greatest country and American songs that Johnny Cash gave her when she was 18.