We are counting the days to June 17 when the Folly Theater will celebrate ten years of Cyprus Avenue Live at the Folly featuring Rosanne Cash.
One of the country’s pre-eminent singer/songwriters, Rosanne Cash has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned four GRAMMY Awards and nominations for 11 more, as well as 21 top-40 hits, including 11 No. 1 singles. She is also an author whose four books include the best-selling memoir Composed, which the Chicago Tribune called “one of the best accounts of an American life you’ll likely ever read.” Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Oxford-American, The Nation, and many more print and online publications. In addition to continual touring, Cash has partnered in programming collaborations with the Minnesota Orchestra, Lincoln Center, and San Francisco Jazz. She completed a residency at the Library of Congress in December 2013.
She was awarded the SAG/AFTRA Lifetime Achievement award for Sound Recordings in 2012 and received the 2014 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts. She was chosen as a Perspective Series artist at Carnegie Hall and hosted four concerts (including a major show of her own in February) during the 2015/16 season. She served as 2015 Artist-in-Residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. She performed three concerts there this past fall. On October 1, 2015 she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Cash’s landmark 2009 album, The List, won the Americana Music Album of the Year award. In her latest release The River and the Thread, a collaboration with husband/co-writer/producer and arranger John Leventhal, Cash evokes a kaleidoscopic examination of the geographic, emotional, musical and historic landscape of the American South. The album has received impressive worldwide acclaim and attained the highest debut in the Billboard charts of any of her previous albums. It received three Grammy Awards.
Rosanne Cash will once again be gracing the Folly stage this month to perform songs from the Grammy winning album The River and The Thread. After a previous performance at the Folly Theater, Ms. Cash said “I can hear my voice in all the cracks and crevices of this beautiful theater…you are fortunate to have the Folly Theater in Kansas City.” We had a few questions for her regarding the album as well as what Ms. Cash likes best about Kansas City (other than the Folly Theater of course). Read on:
Folly Theater (FT) asked: Arkansas State University’s Heritage Studies Department purchased your father’s boyhood home along with other buildings in this old New Deal-era farming community to restore as a museum and heritage site. You have been involved since the beginning and we’re told it was one of the inspirations to make The River and The Thread. Could you tell our patrons a little bit more about the project and specifically the role that project played in writing this latest album?
Rosanne Cash (RC): The album was inspired by several trips John and I took down South in a short period of time– to Tennessee and Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, and to Appalachia. We went for several reasons. I was involved with Arkansas State University in the restoration of my dad’s boyhood home. It was a very powerful experience, and very close to my heart. I very seldom get involved with projects related to my dad-there are dozens presented to me every year-but this one was important and I felt very connected to the project and the people involved.
FT asked: Could you expound on the process you and your husband Mr. Leventhal underwent when creating The River and The Thread?
RC: Driving from Memphis to Arkansas, we stopped at a little town and John looked around and said, “there’s something we can write about here…” We wrote “Etta’s Tune.” After visiting my friend Natalie Chanin in Florence, Alabama, we wrote “A Feather’s Not A Bird.” Natalie taught me to sew and she said, as she was threading my needle, “you have to love the thread.” I put that line right in the song. After writing those two songs, the rest of the album started to crystallize in our minds. We wanted it to be heavy in Southern geography and full of characters that weren’t ME.
The geography and characters must have resonated with people because we won three Grammys for it and it’s been quite a ride for the last two years. The record has been a gift from start to finish.
FT asked: What is your favorite song on The River and The Thread?
RC: Depends on my mood! But I always love singing “When The Master Calls The Roll.”
FT asked: We can tell you try to take in as much of the cities you visit as possible. What is the best part of touring for you?
RC: The best part of touring is performing and meeting a new audience, and seeing what they bring to the evening. That’s always special. And when I go to YOUR fair city, my favorite part is the barbecue!