top of page

From Cult to Country

An Asthmatic's Journey

to Find More Air

by Michael Ricks


An Asthmatic's Memoir.


From Cult to Country chronicles the life of banjo player Michael Ricks, who grew up in a household entrenched in a religious cult. His parents' unwavering devotion to the cult, which denounced modern medicine, resulted in over 100 deaths within the congregation in less than two decades. As the eldest of nine siblings, Michael bore the brunt of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse inflicted by his fervently religious father, who normalized suffering as part of their way of life.

Amid the turmoil, music became Michael's solace and refuge. Gifted musically from a young age, Michael ingeniously repurposed a paddle his father used for punishment into a makeshift guitar, igniting his lifelong passion for the banjo, guitar, and country music. Struggling with stress-induced asthma for years, Michael embarked on a personal journey to confront the root cause of his anxiety, leading him deeper into the realm of country music.

Michael's story is one of resilience and redemption, as he found solace and healing through his love for country music and his ability to transform instruments of pain into instruments of redemption.

Composer & Musician Biographies

Michael Ricks, also known as Michael Rix, is an American banjo country artist, songwriter, author, actor, and cult survivor based in Nashville. He is renowned for his exceptional banjo playing skills and is a prominent figure in the country music scene. Ricks has authored the book From Cult to Country: An Asthmatic’s Journey to Find More Air, detailing his challenging journey from a cult survivor to a celebrated musician. His unique story includes overcoming severe asthma and the tragic loss of his baby brother due to the cult’s beliefs against modern medicine.

Ricks has been a part of the Nashville music community for over a decade and is known for bringing the banjo to the forefront of country music. He has been featured in the Bank of America National marketing campaign for Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “Country Music.” Additionally, he has recently opened for the London Fashion Week 2023 with American fashion designer Jeff Garner and played at notable events like the Pilgrimage Festival 2023 and WestHaven Porchfest1.

Michael's life story and musical talent make him one of the most unique and inspiring figures in today’s country music landscape.

bottom of page