Characterized mainly by spiritual themes and twangy instrumentation, the actual sound of Country Gospel varies tremendously from artist to artist, as many well-known country artists have recorded Gospel material in their own singular styles. They include man-in-black Johnny Cash, Bakersfield Sound pioneer Merle Haggard, and Honky-Tonk hero Hank Williams. Early Hillbilly musicians were usually well versed in Gospel hymns and other songs of religious praise -- despite the fact that their Saturday night songs often spoke unabashedly of booze, sex, and sinful acts. The Country Gospel tradition is an old one. Artists from the 1920s who dabbled in sacred material included country legends the Carter Family, and Ernest Stoneman. Other artists from that period, like Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Quartet, recorded Hillbilly-style Gospel music almost exclusively. Bluegrass was closely tied to Gospel as well, with Carl Story being just one prominent Bluegrass bandleader who played mostly sacred music. Modern country musicians from Tennessee Ernie Ford in the '50s to Ricky Van Shelton in the '80s have also cut Gospel albums.