Officials at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro today announced the first Johnny Cash Music Festival concert, to be held Aug. 4 at ASU’s Convocation Center.
The annual festival will raise money to help restore the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, which is between Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn. The university recently acquired the original Cash home, and also plans the establishment of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Museum in the New Deal Era Administration Building at Dyess.
Artists scheduled to perform on Aug. 4 so far include Cash’s children Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash, his younger brother Tommy Cash, John Carter’s wife Laura Cash, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Daily & Vincent, Gary Morris, Rodney Crowell, and Rosanne’s and Crowell’s daughter Chelsea Crowell. All the performers are donating their time and charging only expenses for this first festival.
The festival was announced at a media event in the ballroom of ASU’s Cooper Alumni Center attended by Rosanne, John Carter and Tommy Cash.
“This is an incredible, special, emotional day for the Cash family,” said Rosanne, who had left her home in New York at 3:30 a.m. to participate in the 11 a.m. (CST) announcement. “Dad always held this area dear to his heart. This will be something that people will be able to see and touch.”
She said that her father drew inspiration from his roots, and said that it was his “authenticity” and “spirit” that connected him to music fans of all stripes.
John Carter likewise recognized Johnny Cash’s “honest [and] genuine” music that knew “no rules, no boundaries.”
“It came from the heart [and] crossed every line,” noted Tommy.
The Cash Boyhood Home had an outside toilet, a barn, a chicken house and smokehouse, but had no running water or electricity. It is one of the few houses remaining in the former agricultural resettlement colony of Dyess, where the Cash family moved from Cleveland County, Ark., when he was three. He lived there until he graduated high school in 1950.
ASU chancellor Dr. Dan Howard called the acquisition of the Cash home a “highwater mark for us” and said it could become “Arkansas’s own Graceland!” He read a special proclamation from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe designating Aug. 4 as Johnny Cash Day.
Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas Heritage Sites and Arkansas Delta Byways, said, “The Johnny Cash Music Festival will not be just a concert, but an opportunity to preserve the legacy of an internationally recognized legend. We are proud that Johnny Cash is from Arkansas and that growing up here had an impact on his music It is time that we pay permanent tribute to his memory, and we are especially grateful to the Cash family for their involvement and support in this endeavor.”
Gaither Television Productions’ Bill Carter, who hails from Rector, Ark., and is an ASU alumn, was instrumental in putting the concert together.
“No artist who came out of Nashville had the impact on the music business like Johnny Cash,” said Carter, who at one time managed Rodney Crowell. “He was a giant as a man and as an artist, and he was known worldwide. People think Elvis Presley [had greater impact] but he never toured outside the U.S., and Johnny Cash traveled all over the world.”
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