Rosanne Cash sings her father’s favorites | ParkRecord.com
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Rosanne Cash sings her father’s favorites

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

The Eccles Center has played host to a melting pot of different acts over the past few months, among them a trio of blues crooners, the son of a country legend, and a family of eccentric performers.

Tonight, Jan. 9, Rosanne Cash will lead off the New Year in a show that echoes many of the season’s previous performances.

Cash doesn’t like to be pegged to one genre, but country, folk, rock and blues are all justifiable descriptions. She has musical ties to the aforementioned family, the Wainwrights, and she also happens to be the son of a legend.

But other than that, Saturday night’s concert will bring a whole new type of concert to the stage.

Cash will be promoting her latest album, "The List," a project that pays tribute to her late father, Johnny Cash.

As the Man in Black’s eldest daughter, Cash went on the road with her dad in 1973, the day after she graduated high school. She had inherited his passion for music, but not his penchant for performing. "I wanted to be a songwriter," she says. "I didn’t really have any interest in being a performer at that time."

It was on that tour that Johnny recognized some gaps in his daughter’s knowledge of American roots music. After bringing up several songs that she had no recollection of, he decided to make a list of the top 100 country songs she needed to learn.

"Many of the songs I was familiar with," she says. "They were part of the oeuvre of my childhood. Some were such big radio hits that it was impossible not to have heard them and some my mother and father played in the house. He wasn’t giving me the list thinking, ‘Oh, she doesn’t know any of these,’ he was giving me the list to say, ‘This is a template for excellence and for our own musical DNA. Make sure you give as much value to these songs as you do to rock ‘n’ roll."

Cash says she was immediately intrigued by her father’s suggestions. "At that moment on that tour, I would ask him ‘How does this song go?’ or ‘How does this one sound?’" she says. "Eventually I learned all of them, either through him or by the record or just by opening myself to absorbing this stuff."

It was not long after her first tour experience that Cash started her songwriting career and, a few years later, ventured into singing.

Although she considers songwriting the essence of her musical persona, as a singer Cash has released 12 albums, received nine Grammy nominations and one win, and landed on the Top 40 country singles chart more than 20 times.

After her last album, "Black Cadillac," which was released in 2006, she decided to take some time to focus on herself. "That album was kind of dense emotionally, and I was just ready to take a break," she says.

When she got around to thinking about a new studio project, she was set on making an album of cover songs something she had never done before. "John [Levathal, her husband] started saying to me, ‘Well, if you’re going to do a record of covers, the record to do is the list,’" she explains.

The duo sat down with her father’s inventory and began the process of narrowing 100 songs to less than 15. "There was a natural vetting process," Cash says. "Some of them were on the list because they were an important history song or something like that that didn’t make sense for me to sing, and some of them were so much of a male voice that it was sort of impossible to turn it around. Then we started talking about which ones really suited my voice and which ones I had been singing throughout my life and were close to me."

Levanthal produced and arranged the album, which contains covers of anthems ranging from Patsy Cline’s recording of "She’s Got You" to Bob Dylan’s "Girl from the North Country."

Although her father originally dubbed the list "100 Essential Country Songs," Cash say it’s not limited in genres. "There are country songs on the list, but it’s a bigger umbrella than that. There are early folk songs, Appalachian songs, Southern gospel and Delta songs it’s kind of the definitive template for American roots music," she says.

Cash collaborated with several fellow artists on the album, including Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco. In December, she found out that her duet with Bruce Springsteen, "Sea of Heartbreak," has been nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. "It was a great honor to get to work with him," she says. "I’m such a fan of his."

Besides renewing her connection to her dad through exploring the music that inspired him, Cash now has a template of essential songs to pass along to her own children. "I wanted to leave these songs for my kids, to document them and say, this is not only an important part of our personal legacy, but the American canon These songs are who we are as Americans," she says.

Cash’s show in Park City will feature most of the songs from "The List" as well as her past hits and fan favorites. She will be performing with a full band and says she is looking forward to visiting this part of the country.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $18 to $65 with a 20-percent discount for seniors and two-for-one tickets for children ages 12 and under. For tickets or more information, call the Eccles Center Box Office at 655-3114 or visit http://www.ecclescenter.org . For more about Rosanne Cash and "The List," log on to http://www.rosannecash.com .


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