Willie Nelson and Rosanne Cash greet at the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro, Arkansas (10/5/2012) ( Photo: Arkansas State University
Rosanne Cash hosted the 2012 Johnny Cash Music Festival at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas, last Friday. She welcomed and thanked everyone for their support of the second annual fundraiser to benefit causes important to her father, including the restoration of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Oklahoma, funding a scholarship program to ASU, and celebrating history, people and music of Mississippi County, Arkansas
At the press event before the concert, Rosanne said she welcomed the opportunity to become involved in the project when she was approached by the University. ”There are so many tributes to my dad, books, films, movies, plays — but I haven’t gotten involved with them. But this project moved me.” She said that the funds raised would go to causes important to her dad, such as restoring his boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, helping create a historic Dyess Colony, and help fund scholarships for students to attend ASU.
Roseanne said the home in Dyess was in such disarray when the Univeristy purchased it, she didn’t know how they could ever restore it. But that morning she said she was shown pictures of the house that morning, and that she was moved to tears by the progress that had been made. Johnny Cash’s sister Joan, and his brother Tommy, are working with the restoration committee. Joan, who Rosanne has a photographic memory, is helping oversee details of restoration, including helping to match paint and lineouleum.
Roseanne said she was humbled by response of artists who agreed to be involved. Rosanne Cash opened the show with her band, followed by Johnny Cash’s Highwayman partner Willie Nelson. I don’t know if Willie Nelson has ever said no to a request to honor Johnny Cash; he has performed for many of them. Dierks Bentley, and the Civil Wars also performed. Last year, another Highwayman, Kris Kristofferson, performed at the first Johnny Cash Music Festival.
If you want to see more pictures from Dyess Project GO HERE.
Restoring Johnny Cash’s family home in Dyess, Arkansas, is only one of the projects supported by the Festival’s fundraising efforts. Money raised from the annual concerts will also fund scholarships to allow Arkansas students to attend ASU in Jonesboro. Two scholarships have been persented this year, from funds raised at last year’s concert. Scholarship winner pictured above with Rosanne Cash, had to work and couldn’t attend the concert, but got to meet and thank Rosanne at the press event before the show. Rosanne introduced the other scholarship winner, at the concert. Rosanne talked about how important education was to her dad, and that, when she was young and would tell him about some educational accomplishment, that he would tell her that he was prouder about that than anything else she could do.
Johnny Cash’s childhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, was built as part of the Dyess Colony, which was established in 1934 as an agricultural resettlemetn community under the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
The Johnny Cash Music Festival brochure said this about the The colony was named for Mississippi County native and Arkansas’s first WPA administreator, Williams Reynolds Dyess.
The federal government acquired 16,000 acres of land in Missisippi County and laid out the colony with a town center at the hub and farmsteads stretching out from the center. The colony’s centerpiece was a large Greek Revival Administration Building, dedicated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1936.
Ray and Carrie Cash and their children, including 3-year-old J.R. (later known as Johnny Cash), were among 500 colonist families recruited from all over Arkansas to the historic Dyess Colony. The Cash home is one of the few houses remainin in the former New Dea-era colony. Johnny Cash lived in Dyess untl he graduated from high school in 1950. HIs music was greatly influenced by his experiences in Dyess, including such songs as “Pickin’ Time’ and “Five Feet High and Rising.”
In 2009, the General Assembly directed Arkansas State University to determine the feasibility of developing the town as a heritage tourism site, focusing on its agricultural heritage and native son Johnny Cash. To carry out this mandate, a Dyess Colony Redevelopment Master Plan was completed in 2010, and the city donated the Administration Building, along with the adjacent theater center shell, to Arkansas State University. These buildings will house exhibits related to the Dyess Colony, the Cash family and the impact of Dyess on Johnny Cash and his music.The Master Plan also calls for placing historic markers at appropriate locations and creating a walking/biking trail from the town center to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, now bring restored through proceeds from the Johnny Cash Music Festival.
For information on how you can support these projects:
See photos from the Historical Dyess Colony, and Johnny Cash’s child hood home HERE.