Rosanne Cash returns to Englert stage


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Country singer, songwriter, author, and daughter of country-music legend Johnny Cash — ­Rosanne Cash — will perform at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St, at 8 p.m.Saturday along with husband and composer John Leventhal. Cash’s latest album, The River & the Thread, released Jan. 14, marks her first album in four years.

“I was a curious young person with a lot of interests, but I did know I wanted to be a writer. It became clear that I wanted to be a songwriter when I was about 18,” Cash said. “I studied lyrics by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Joni Mitchell, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and, of course, my dad.”

Cash has recorded 15 albums and has 21 Top-40 country singles, 11 of those at No. 1. She has also been nominated for 12 Grammy Awards and won in 1985 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her song “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me.”

This isn’t Cash’s first appearance at the Englert; she performed for the theater’s 100th anniversary celebration in October 2012. Andre Perry, the executive director of the Englert, says Cash is a welcome guest.

“Rosanne is a classic singer/songwriter at this point,” Perry said. “It’s just one of those traditions. If she’s doing work out on the road, we’d love to have her come in, a classic American songwriter.”

Many of Cash’s songs cover her experience. Cash said the inspiration for the start of The River & the Thread came from many trips to the South.

“I reconnected with places I thought were footnotes in my past —Memphis, where I was born and Dyess, Arkansas, where my dad grew up,” Cash said. “I became involved with Arkansas State University’s project of restoring my dad’s boyhood home, and it was very moving to me to really understand how hard my grandmother’s life was and how my dad grew up. We drove straight down Highway 61 and ended up in New Orleans and played Tipitina's at the end of that particular road trip. We went to Robert Johnson’s grave and William Faulkner’s house. We were deeply inspired and the idea for the record took root.”

The River & the Thread isn’t the first of Cash’s albums to feature tracks with heavy emotional background. “Black Cadillac,” Cash’s 2006 song, was written about her father’s, mother’s, and stepmother’s deaths. Another powerful political song, “Money Road,” was written about black teenager Emmett Till being killed for allegedly “flirting” with a white woman in 1955 in Mississippi. Till was 14. His death, and funeral in Chicago, where he was from, helped to spark the modern civil-rights movement.

And while Cash said her father encouraged her passions from a young age, Perry said, the acclaimed musician and writer has developed her own identity.

“She's a great storyteller and brings a really good sense of memoir and fiction into her songwriting,” Perry said. “That gives her a great voice.

“Being in the shadow of her father, who obviously is so famous, being able to craft her own voice is amazing.”

Rosanne Cash
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $42-$57.50

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