Nashville duo Sugar + The Hi-Lows, comprised of singers/songwriters Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup, pay tribute to Johnny & June with its new album Wild Desire (Johnny Cash Live Sessions), out on iTunes Tuesday, July 22.
Earlier this year, the two were asked by the Nashville Ballet to perform Johnny Cash songs live to a choreographed dance performance for the Attitude series.
“We thought that was amazing and daunting at the same time,” said Amy. “Playing Johnny Cash songs in Nashville is an honor. But when you play a hero’s songs, you want to do it right.”
So they dug in and researched who wrote the songs and why—and why each song meant something to Johnny and June. “The real story behind ‘Ring of Fire’ is that June wrote it as a love ballad for Johnny,” Amy said. “We wanted to take the songs that everyone knows by heart and give them a different spin, so we actually recorded ‘Ring of Fire’ how June wrote it—not necessarily how Johnny sang it.”
“We spent a lot of time listening to Johnny’s recordings and tried to give the songs our own personality and our own sound, all the while knowing how sacred this music is,” Trent said.
“‘Jackson’ has such a great back and forth,” said Trent. “A real Johnny and June feel …”
“… that really fit our personalities as performers,” said Amy. “It’s a playful back and forth. In my head I can see her smiling and him smiling too.”
“It totally fits our dynamic,” said Trent. “And when we played it for the Nashville Ballet, you could see it still translates to the audience today.”
Get an exclusive preview of the entire album here: