Rosanne Cash, Live in Studio 4A

Singer-Songwriter Fights Back from Career-Threatening Condition

Rosanne Cash in NPR's Studio 4A

Rosanne Cash in NPR's Studio 4A David Banks, NPR Online hide caption

itoggle caption David Banks, NPR Online
CD cover for 'Rules of Travel'

CD cover for Rules of Travel (Capitol Records) hide caption

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Rosanne Cash is singing again — and that's no small thing.

Cash is as close as you can get to country music royalty — she's the daughter of legend Johnny Cash. But she's also blazed her own trail, with 20 years of making records and 11 number-one country music singles under her belt.

It all nearly came to an end about three years ago, when Cash lost her singing voice completely.

A polyp had grown on her vocal cords during her pregnancy, and it silenced her. The album she was in the middle of recording was set aside.

At first, Cash thought it was an allergic reaction or perhaps laryngitis. But her doctor said the polyps, normally small, had grown because of the hormones of pregnancy.

One year after her child's birth, however, Cash's voice was still scratchy.

But after a lot of vocal therapy, her voice came back. Cash went back to finishing her new album, Rules of Travel, with husband and producer John Leventhal.

She and Leventhal joined NPR's Melissa Block in Studio 4A to talk about the long road back, and Cash's first new CD in seven years.

In Rules of Travel, Cash sings duets with Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle and Teddy Thompson. Another child of a music legend forging his own path, Jakob Dylan, contributes a song to the disk.

And on the song "September When it Comes," a song about facing up to the mortality of a parent, Cash sings with her father — the first time since the early 1980s that father and daughter have sung together on a record. Johnny Cash is 71 now, and has been ill for several years.

Rules of Travel isn't a country music album — at least, not in the popular sense. Cash moved to New York City more than a decade ago, and favors a intimate vocal-and-guitar feel that leans more towards folk music, and her songs tend to have darker themes.

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Rules of Travel

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