Melissa Etheridge explains how the late Johnny Cash inspired her latest passion project

Sun Records

Melissa Etheridge announced Friday that in July she’ll release a live album called I’m Not Broken (Live From Topeka Correctional Facility) as part of a two-part docuseries she’s bringing to Paramount+ that month. She says the concept of the docuseries, which is a passion project for her, was inspired by the late country icon Johnny Cash.

“I did a show at the Kansas state women’s penitentiary. … We filmed it. We followed about five women. They wrote me letters, I met them, I wrote them a song, performed it there,” Melissa tells ABC Audio. “It’s about the healing powers of music and … a spotlight on our correctional facilities and how we can help make them better.”

As for why she wanted to play in a prison, it’s because of Cash, who often performed in correctional facilities. His 1968 album Live at Folsom Prison is a classic.

“I grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas. Lots of prisons [there],” Melissa tells ABC Audio. “When I was about 8 years old, Johnny Cash came and performed two blocks from my house at the federal penitentiary. We did not get to see him, but since then, I’ve always felt like that is a real way of giving back to people and, and maybe using the power of music to lift them up.”

“I almost did it with [country legend] Tammy Wynette in the ’90s, but she passed away, unfortunately. And so I kept the dream alive, and I finally got to do it,” Melissa adds. “It’ll be on Paramount+ in July.”

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