When you hear Brian Owens sing, it’s hard to believe that anyone could find as much joy in music as he does. You would have to believe that his greatest goal is to thrill audiences and reinforce his reputation as one of America’s true soul music virtuosos.
On his new album, SOUL OF CASH, Owens offers up his own soulful take on timeless classics recorded by legendary Johnny Cash, including "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Walk The Line," Man In Black," and "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Each song is configured respectfully by Owens and his band, The Deacons of Soul (Alvin Quinn, Shaun Robinson, Rob Woodie), to preserve the genius of the original versions while demonstrating their universal meaning and adaptability.
"The way I look at this project is not so much as a tribute, but more of an Americana soul project that features the music of Johnny Cash," says Owens, who has been lauded by Rolling Stone as a “vibrant soul singer who bridges a racial and generational divide." "One of the things I've come to know is that the soul of Johnny Cash is very similar to the soul of me."
"I get the sense from people that they think my connection to Johnny Cash is a strange one," Owens continues. "I don't know if it's because he's white or because I'm black. When people hear my original material, it leans more toward Marvin Gaye and that kind of vibe. But I really discovered my voice singing Johnny Cash music. When I sing music of some of my other influences, it's pulling from Marvin, Sam Cooke, and Curtis Mayfield. But when I sing Johnny Cash, you're hearing me because there's no reference point for me other than the song."
Owens was 11 years old when first saw Johnny Cash on the popular TV series Columbo where Cash portrayed playing a televangelist and sang "I Saw the Light." Later in his mid-20s, Owens discovered him once again through the movie Walk The Line. "There was something about his life that resonated with me," Owens says. "From then on, I really got into Cash -- not only the music, but also the person."
In a country where everything feels so divided now and people are seemingly forced by the media to look at our differences more than what makes us the same, Owens says he thinks of Soul Of Cash a middle-of-the-road narrative. "To me it says here's this guy, a white man born in the South, who's now passed on, and I, a young African-American guy born in the Midwest, raised on soul music, finding much common ground through music," explains Owens. "What we have in common far outweighs the difference that I'm black and he's white, and that's
what I want people to get from this project."
Owens has accomplished a lot in his musical career. He was the lead singer for the U.S. military band Sidewinder that became an internet sensation. He says performing for the troops was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that helped shape and mold him as an artist and a person. Owens has since released three nationally distributed solo albums, opened for such notable artists as Ramsey Lewis and Michael McDonald, and has headlined his own tours from coast to coast. Owens has also performed at the World Series and for First Lady Michelle Obama and made numerous national TV appearances including Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fox & Friends, The Wayne Brady Show and more.
A longtime resident of Ferguson, Missouri, Owens has led by example in launching numerous charitable initiatives. Through his LIFE (Leadership, Innovation, Faith and Excellence) Cultural and Performing Arts, he offers education in music, art and technology with the aim of empowering youth in his community.