ROSANNE CASH

GRAMMY-WIN­NING SINGER-SONG­WRITER ROSANNE CASH, WHO RE­CEIVED THE “SPIRIT OF AMER­I­CANA” FREE SPEECH AWARD RE­CENTLY IN NASHVILLE, TEN­NESSEE, SAYS FIRST AMEND­MENT RIGHTS ARE UN­DER FIRE IN THE UNITED STATES AND ABROAD.

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CON­TENTS - KRISTIN M. HALL WRITES

Rosanne Cash’s in­ter­est in po­lit­i­cal and so­cial activism started at a young age, but she also had a role model in her fa­ther, Johnny Cash. The Grammy-win­ning singer-song­writer re­ceived the “Spirit of Amer­i­cana” Free Speech award dur­ing the Amer­i­cana Honors & Awards show in Nashville on Sept. 12. Her fa­ther re­ceived the hon­our in 2002.

“I cam­paigned for (Ge­orge) McGovern when I was too young to vote,” she said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “I learned, too, at my fa­ther ’s knee. He was tremen­dously out­spo­ken, but he had the abil­ity to be pas­sion­ate and righ­teous and also com­pas­sion­ate at the same time. That’s what I try to do, too.”

Cash’s ca­reer started with her 1981 break-out al­bum, “Seven Year Ache,” fol­lowed by a string of 11 No. 1 coun­try sin­gles. To­day, the singer-song­writer has found a bet­ter home for her in­tro­spec­tive, po­etic mu­sic in the Amer­i­cana genre, which en­com­passes coun­try, folk, blues, rock and much more.

Cash, a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for stop­ping gun vi­o­lence, was a long­time mem­ber of the board of PAX, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that has been folded into the Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence.

She says First Amend­ment rights are un­der ire around the world.

“It’s re­ally alarm­ing,” she says. “When the high­est ech­e­lons of gov­ern­ment call to shut down news­pa­pers or strengthen li­bel laws or in­ves­ti­gate jour­nal­ists, to even at­tack jour­nal­ists, that’s a very dan­ger­ous time. It’s one of the foun­da­tions of the repub­lic.”

And her calls for stricter gun con­trol have been met with threats and vit­riol. She said her daugh­ter has re­ceived death threats be­cause of her op-ed col­umns pub­lished by The New York Times.

“A lot of times I feel I don’t have the courage, but I say it any­way,” Cash says. “Be­cause I can­not ... sit here and watch chil­dren be­ing slaugh­tered when they go to school. It’s wrong. It’s im­moral.”

One op-ed came days af­ter the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in na­tion’s mod­ern his­tory oc­curred at a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas last Oc­to­ber. She called on the coun­try mu­sic com­mu­nity to re­ject the NRA, which in re­cent years has sought to tie coun­try mu­sic to gun-linked ac­tiv­i­ties like hunt­ing, while also putting its brand on coun­try mu­sic tours and con­certs.

Cash said some peo­ple have talked to her pri­vately about gun con­trol, but she’s seen lit­tle change re­gard­ing the NRA among mem­bers of the coun­try mu­sic in­dus­try.

“It’s not just fear of your fans burn­ing your records or the blow­back from fans,” Cash said. “It’s fear of some kind of dis­en­fran­chise­ment, or not up­hold­ing the iconog­ra­phy of the coun­try mu­sic in­dus­try. I hon­estly don’t know. It’s kind of shock­ing to me.”

She’s also been a sup­porter of copy­right re­form and fair com­pen­sa­tion for artists as a board mem­ber of the Con­tent Cre­ators Coali­tion.

“I see so many young mu­si­cians quit be­cause they can’t pay their rent,” Cash said. “And I see a lot of older mu­si­cians that can’t tour any­more be­cause they are barely scrap­ing by. For a lot of rea­sons, but on we is there are no roy­al­ties paid from the dig­i­tal realm for pre-1972 record­ings.”

The award is pre­sented in part­ner­ship with the First Amend­ment Cen­ter that was founded by jour­nal­ist and pub­lisher John Seigen­thaler Sr. Cash said she deeply ad­mired Seigen­thaler for his work dur­ing the Civil Rights era when he was the chief ne­go­tia­tor with the gov­er­nor of Alabama dur­ing the Free­dom Rides.

Dur­ing the awards show last week, Cash per­formed a new song “Ev­ery­one But Me” from her up­com­ing al­bum, “She Re­mem­bers Ev­ery­thing.” It’s a poignant date for Cash as well. It’s the 15th an­niver­sary of her fa­ther’s death.

“He was pro­pelled by his sense of what was moral and what was righ­teous, his own pas­sion and his own sense of right and wrong. He spoke for Na­tive Amer­i­can rights, for prison re­form, against the Viet­nam War and many other things,” Cash said. “It was all in a day’s work.”

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