Arkansas State University in Jonesboro has teamed up with the family of Johnny Cash to produce the Johnny Cash Music Festival at the ASU Convocation Center on Aug. 4, with all proceeds going to develop a historical site in Cash's boyhood home of Dyess, Arkansas.
ASU and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are working with the City of Dyess and local stakeholders to preserve and promote the rich and unique heritage of Dyess Colony. Work is currently underway to restore the exterior of the 1934 Dyess Colony Administration Building, stabilize the facade of the 1940 Dyess Theater, and display a replica of Cash's boyhood home.
John Carter Cash will be hosting the benefit. Entertainers making an early commitment to perform are Rosanne Cash, George Jones, Gary Morris and Dailey and Vincent.
Well known and respected Nashville television producer Bill Carter will take the lead and produce the Johnny Cash Musical Festival. Carter is the executive producer of Gaither Videos and is co-founder of the Rector High School Helping Hands Foundation. Carter was an attorney for the Rolling Stones and has met and become friends with a wide range of entertainers throughout his career.
"This event is just the beginning of a long term commitment to honor and preserve the incredible legacy of Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel Music, of Hall of Famer Johnny Cash," Carter said. "His home and the museum in Dyess will establish a gathering place for his fans from all over the world to meet and honor Johnny for his great contribution to the world of music."
The Johnny Cash Music Festival Planning Committee is made up of 29 volunteers who have committed themselves to seeing the festival become an annual event at ASU. Jan Volz is the event promoter, with Joe Pruett as production coordinator. Johnny Cash's former manager Lou Robbins and Cash's legal estate counsel Bob Sullivan will assist in the planning. Dr. Ruth Hawkins, ASU director of Arkansas Heritage Sites, and Dyess Mayor Larry Sims have been important elements in the development of the Dyess project and have been a part of the leadership team from the ground up.
"There are 7,500 seats at ASU's Convocation Center, and we plan to fill them all," Carter said. "We hope to raise around $500,000 for the Dyess historical site project."
"We have a short time frame to work with this first year and have asked some of Johnny's close friends to help us," he said. "Many of the artists we invited to come in August already had full schedules for 2011. Hopefully, they can come next year, or in the years to follow as the festival continues to grow. All of Johnny's friends showed interest in being a part of this at one time or another. We look forward to this being an annual event and be far reaching."