Shadow Mountain Records
Justin Cash tried just about everything he could think of to make a living with the music he loved and knew well.
He had tried many different avenues — the guitarist and singer had been a studio musician, he had worked for a jingle-writing company, he had gigs playing with his band in the evenings and he had gone back to graduate school and graduated with a master’s degree with the thought to teach.
But none of it was working out the way he had hoped.
Cash, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Lewisville Texas Stake, was in the Dallas Texas Temple praying and pondering about his options when an answer came very clearly.
He needed to make an album.
“It seemed impossible,” said Cash, a guitarist and singer, in an interview with the Deseret News. Albums aren’t inexpensive to make — they can cost tens of thousands of dollars and years to put together.
So he put it off for a while, but then he got to work recording his original songs and sending out his music to companies with the hope they would pick it up.
One of the places Cash sent it to was Deseret Book’s division that handles third-party products for its stores that the company didn’t publish or produce.
Bob Ahlander, director of music for Deseret Book’s Shadow Mountain Records, goes to the company's monthly product meetings to see what has come in. Someone popped in Cash’s CD of blues music.
“I heard it and thought: ‘I like this guy. I really like him a lot,'” Ahlander said in a phone interview with the Deseret News.
He contacted Cash and worked out a deal for the singer to record it under the Shadow Mountain Records label.
Cash’s debut CD as a solo artist, titled “Beautiful World,” was recently released and includes 10 original songs, along with his longtime favorites “Over the Rainbow” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Playing the blues
“I like to call it ‘feel-good music,'” Cash said of his easy contemporary blues style.
Cash, who wears cowboy boots made in Justin, Texas, and calls the Dallas area home, started playing the guitar at 12, and later his father, a real estate agent with an adventurous streak, took lessons as well so the two could share some father-son time while he was teenager.
They lived in the Denver area at the time, and Skip Grabow was their first instructor.
“My dad’s impression (was) that if you’re going to learn to play music, you need to go back to the roots,” said Cash, who has two younger sisters.
They learned a song a week and started by learning the blues, Cash said. Then they played music from Bob Dylan, the Beatles and other musicians who were influential in history.
“Through soaking that up, I was able to absorb how to write a song, how to sing, how to play the guitar,” Cash said. “He did that through teaching me song after song after song.”
The lessons and the music also had a deeper meaning, he added.
It wasn’t always easy for them during the two years they took lessons.
“It was more of a demonstration of how much he loved me and that he wanted to do that,” Cash said, as his father’s large hands sometimes had a difficult time playing the guitar.
Cash majored in music at Brigham Young University and served a mission for the LDS Church to Spain.
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