Americana performer Rosanne Cash coming to Hancher

The four-time Grammy award winner and daughter of Johnny Cash makes her way to Hancher to perform on Feb. 8.


Samantha Murray, Arts Reporter

On Saturday, four-time Grammy award winner Rosanne Cash will come to fill Hancher Auditorium with her Americana-style music.

Rosanne Cash, the eldest daughter of country music star Johnny Cash, has carved out her own space in the music industry through decades of work that draw upon the roots of distinctly American music.

The music, Cash said, is rooted in folk and delta blues that both Americana and country music take advantage of, including the unique combination of the Celtic fiddle and the banjo.

“It was as much about being American as it was about the music, and I think I’m part of that tradition,” Cash said.

According to University of Iowa American Studies professor Steven Horowitz, Americana can cover a wide variety of musical genres, and came forth as its own style of music due to an overall shift in country music in the music industry. He noted that Cash is a very creative and well-respected musician, winning awards in several different categories.

“Americana does imply roots music, and so it does imply that it is old and part of a tradition versus Jason Aldean on [radio station] KHAK which is new and not tied to traditional country music,” Horowitz said.

Cash’s lyrics have been the highlight of her music throughout the years. While the creative process for Cash may not be formulaic or predictable, Cash said she has developed a sort of technique for working with her husband, John Leventhal, where she usually writes the lyrics first then he writes the music.

In her most recent album She Remembers Everything, Cash’s song “Everyone But Me” was not originally intended to be on the album. She said that she initially thought it would only be for her.

“I thought it was kind of too raw,” she said. “John and I were in the studio one day, and he said ‘do you have another lyric that you haven’t shown me,’ and I said ‘well I have this but I’m not sure it’s going to be a song,’ and he loved it and wrote the music.”

It can be hard to have a famous parent, according to Horowitz. But he believes that Rosanne Cash has stepped out her father’s shadow much better than others such as Frank Sinatra Jr. coming from the “royal family of country music.” He said she has been successful in part by embracing that part of herself.

While Cash’s music and songwriting has by her own admittance been fairly different from her father, she said that there was an osmosis of living around his songs for her whole life that partially defines who she is musically no matter what.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Bob James from the “new country” radio channel KHAK wrote about his favorite parts of Rosanne Cash’s music.

“In the 80s and early 90s, she was played on mainstream country stations all around the country, but she can rock with the best of them, is a tremendous blues singer, and her incredible songwriting makes her a perfect fit for folk and Americana, as well,” James wrote. “She’s an artist in the truest sense of the word.”

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