Willie Nelson among stars announced for Cash Music Festival

Thursday, May 31, 2012
Country music and entertainment icon Willie Nelson is among the stars announced for the Johnny Cash Music Festival

Living legend Willie Nelson, country music star Dierks Bentley, Grammy Award-winning duo the Civil Wars and singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash will bring their musical magic to the Arkansas State University Convocation Center stage for the second annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night, Oct. 5.

John Carter Cash and ASU officials announced the lineup at a news conference Thursday morning at ASU's Cooper Alumni Center. Proceeds from the event will fund the restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess.

"When we were coming to Arkansas State, the Johnny Cash Music Festival was one of the events we looked at," said Dr. Tim Hudson, Chancellor at Arkansas State University, who has been on the job less than a month. "We talked about a lot of things, but we talked mostly about Johnny Cash."

John Carter Cash noted, "There is a great talent lineup for this year's event. Rosanne will be there to represent the family. And Willie Nelson was a dear, dear friend of my father and is very close to our family. He will do a great job along with Dierks Bentley and the Civil Wars."

Cash made the trip to Jonesboro to make the talent announcement in place of his sister, Rosanne, who was unable to travel due to illness.

"It is a blessing to be back and see the dream continue to become a reality," continued Cash about the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project. "I'm very excited about this year's event, and I know it will benefit a great area and a lot of great people. It is an area that really needs help, and this project will help. We have a lot of good friends in Dyess, and the family is proud to see the project moving along. The best thing is that it is a continuing project, and we hope it will continue for many years to come. Last year was a lot of fun, and there was a full house. I'm sorry I won't be able to be a part of the music this year, but I'm happy to be in Jonesboro and at ASU to talk about the concert and the project."

Rosanne Cash

In addition to being a talented singer-songwriter, Rosanne Cash is also a prolific writer and has authored several books. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Oxford American, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Martha Stewart Living and various other publications. Her most recent album, "The List," won the 2010 Americana Music Award for Best Album of the Year. She currently is writing an album of songs about Southern people, places and themes with her longtime partner and music collaborator, John Leventhal. With a dozen albums to her credit and ten No. 1 hits between 1978 and 2009, working in genres as diverse as country, folk, rock and blues, Rosanne Cash is one of America's most skilled songwriters.

Willie Nelson

A longtime friend of and fellow Highwaymen member with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson's career has spanned six decades. The singer-songwriter also has worked as an actor, author, activist and poet. He has 200 albums to his credit, and he has earned every conceivable award and honor a singer-songwriter can win, including membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Born during the Great Depression and raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. From the age of 13, he earned spending money singing in dance halls, taverns and honky-tonks. From 1956-1972, he worked as a musician, but found his greatest success from 1973-1989 in the genre known as outlaw country, with the release of 1975's concept album, Red Headed Stranger, which included Nelson's first No. 1 hit, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain."

Nelson worked with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Coulter, Tompall Glaser and Merle Haggard, as well as forming The Highwaymen in the mid-eighties with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. Nelson also sang for charity ("We are the World") and for President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter at the White House, where they performed a duet of "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother."

The 1990s and beyond have seen many critically acclaimed albums from this veteran performer who is a vital country music icon.

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars, a duo comprised of California-to-Nashville transplant Joy Williams and her Alabaman partner John Paul White have received much recognition. They were presented the 2011 Vanguard Award by ASCAP -- the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

In 2012, their first studio album, "Barton Hollow," received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album and they were also presented the Grammy for Best Duo/Group Performance on "Barton Hollow." The duo's single, "Poison and Wine," has received some 400,000 hits to date on YouTube, after being performed on an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC. Their songs are intimate conversations, and the paradigmatic "Poison and Wine" expresses truths better sung than spoken.

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., has recorded nine albums since 2003. In 2004, he was named Top New Artist by the Academy of Country Music, received the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association and won the CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Bentley has had eight No. 1 singles and has written every one of them. He has performed in venues as diverse as Lollapalooza, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Bonnaroo and the Country Music Academy's Music Festival.

His instantly recognizable voice, his acoustic/electric hybrid sound, and his sheer musical diversity (spanning mainstream country, bluegrass and roots music) have earned him a deep connection with fans, membership in the Grand Ole Opry and an opportunity to perform for President Barack Obama at the White House.

Bentley has satisfied his own muses and done things his own way. Recently, The Washington Post said this about Bentley, "Like an actor playing a great role, great country singers inhabit their songs and make them sound like they're living it right before your ears...Dierks Bentley is a great country singer."

Tickets for the second Johnny Cash Music Festival went on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, May 25, at ASU's Central Box Office, online at www.tickets.astate.edu. Tickets can also be purchased by logging onto the official website of the Johnny Cash Music Festival, www.johnnycashmusicfest.com. Call to purchase tickets toll-free at 1-888-278-3267 or locally at 870-972-2781.

Ticket prices are $150, $75 and $37.50, plus applicable fees and taxes. The $150 ticket entitles the bearer to a pre-show meet-and-greet with the artists to be held at ASU's Convocation Center.

Those who want more information on the Johnny Cash Music Festival may call Arkansas State University's Office of Marketing and Communications at (870) 972-3780.

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