“As we promote Arkansas tourism, we recognize that a significant part of the future of tourism in this state is our heritage sites, including the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess,” Gov. Hutchinson stated. “The support of the Cash family and the connection to Rosanne Cash to this state is significant, and I am delighted that the state can continue to support Arkansas State University in preserving these heritage sites for the next generation.”
Gov. Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson and Arkansas State University hosted the benefit event. There was a reception and photo opportunity, followed by “Memories, Music, and More,” including Cash’s reflections on her involvement with restoration of her father’s home and music inspired by her reconnections with the South. She began working with A-State in 2011 to acquire and restore the home and has remained actively involved in the project.
Rosanne, a four-time Grammy winner, performed a concert for a sold-out crowd of 200 invited guests. In addition to the discretionary fund donation, the event also netted just over $20,000.
“We appreciate the governor’s understanding of the value of Arkansas heritage and history. We have benefited from the work and support of many people along the way including other members of the Cash family,” A-State Chancellor Tim Hudson stated at the event.
“We are also very grateful for Rosanne Cash, not only for her willingness to share her remarkable talent, but also for her work on the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project. People with celebrity and name recognition lend their names to things; but, not only has she done that, she has been hands-on from the very start of the project, promoting it around the world, helping to connect the artists to help us raise funds we need to make the project successful, donating items and getting others to donate items.”
The funds will go toward additional Cash outbuildings, including moving and refurbishing existing colony structures and acquiring materials from original Dyess colony buildings for use in reconstruction. A barn will be built and adapted on the interior for use as classroom, office, conference and special event space. The estimated cost of these projects is around $500,000, and will come from privately raised funds or grants. Work will begin quickly on the smaller structures, but the timeline for the barn will depend upon additional private funding.
When her album, The River and the Thread was released in 2014, Rosanne Cash discussed the boyhood home restoration project’s influence on her music during appearances on nationally televised programs such as CBS Sunday Morning and the Katie Couric Show, and in interviews in The Guardian, the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine and numerous other media. She also has mentioned Arkansas State University during concert tours throughout the world.
“I hope everyone will go visit the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess. It’s an amazing place. People from all over the world come to that place to see this icon of American culture and how he lived and how he developed his talent to make him so loved and famous around the world,” said Chancellor Hudson.
The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. As a federal agricultural resettlement community, it provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of music legend Johnny Cash.
The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home opened in August 2014, along with exhibits in the Historic Dyess Colony Administration Building. The Arkansas State University Heritage Site is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.