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Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson to Headline Johnny Cash Heritage Festival Inaugural Concert


JONESBORO — Two of America’s most renowned singer-songwriters will headline the first Johnny Cash Heritage Festival to be held Oct. 19-21 (Thursday through Saturday) in Dyess, Ark. Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson, multiple Grammy Award winners and national treasures, are set to perform at the festival’s Inaugural Concert, which takes place on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 21, in the field adjacent to the restored Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.

Johnny Cash Festival Announcement
Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas State University Heritage Sites, applauds Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne Cash (left at table) and his sister Joanne Cash Yates during Monday's press conference regarding the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival inaugural concert.

The benefit concert with Cash and Kristofferson will be the culmination of Saturday afternoon events in the field that will include a “Cash Homecoming” show by Joanne Cash and Tommy Cash, the two youngest siblings of Johnny Cash, and a performance by country music singer Buddy Jewell.

All three Saturday afternoon performances are included in the price of the Inaugural Concert. Ticket holders also will have access throughout the afternoon to food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and artists’ merchandise. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. March 3 and will be available online, http://www.AState.edu/tickets, or at the Central Box Office on the A-State campus (Lower Red Entrance), 870-972-2781 or 800-745-3000. Ticket prices are $100 (premium chair seating), $50 (chair seating), and $25 (bring your own chairs or blankets).

Rosanne, who was in Dyess Monday (Feb. 13) for the announcement, has been involved with Arkansas State University in acquiring and restoring her father’s boyhood home from the beginning. The music for her most recent internationally acclaimed album, The River and the Thread, which garnered three Grammys, was inspired in part by her visits back to Arkansas on behalf of the project.  

“When I wrote the lyrics for my song ‘The Sunken Lands,’ looking back at the Cash family in the 1930s in Dyess, Arkansas, I didn’t imagine that in October 2017 I would perform in the field next to my dad’s home—the very field my grandfather planted with cotton,” she said. “It’s a very moving experience and a thrill to sing in that field where my father picked that cotton, next to the house he grew up in, and where he drew inspiration for all those Southern ballads he wrote of hard work and family, radio and coal oil lamps. I hope you’ll join me in the Sunken Lands ‪on October 19th-21st.”

Kristofferson, recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Golden Globe winner for Best Actor, also has been involved with the restoration project, including joining Rosanne for the first benefit concert. “Johnny Cash changed my life and I am forever indebted,” Kristofferson said. “I am proud to have had such a tremendous hero become my close friend, and it's a real honor to be asked to participate in the celebration in the Sunken Lands. What a perfect name.”

Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash will have the rare opportunity to perform beside the house where they were born and raised, and in the field where they played as children. “They say you can’t go home again, but Tommy and I get to do just that,” said Joanne, who also was in attendance for the announcement of the lineup. Their performance will be from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Jewell, first winner of the hit television show Nashville Star, grew up in Osceola but lived for a time in the Dyess Colony Administration Building, which was turned into apartments during the 1960s. His performance will be from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

Along with the Saturday afternoon field performances, the three-day festival will include a symposium from Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning in the Dyess Colony Circle, regional music in the Colony Circle on Thursday and Friday nights, a Memories of a Lifetime oral history project, and food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and demonstrations throughout the three days.

The idea for a heritage festival was born after the immensely successful slate of music concerts that began in 2011 in Jonesboro honoring Johnny Cash and benefitting restoration of his boyhood home. The next phase of the project will include rebuilding the outbuildings at the Cash farmstead, including the barn, smokehouse, chicken coop, and privy.

Go to JohnnyCashHeritageFestival.com for additional information as it becomes available.