This November, Starkville, Mississippi will hold its first annual Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival, featuring a symbolic posthumous pardon to Cash, and a line-up of musicians closely associated with the late singer and American icon. The event will be held November 2-4, 2007, and will feature performances by Joanne Cash and Kevin Max, as well as Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives and others.
Johnny Cash fans from around the world are expected to participate in a fascinating part of the Cash story–his experience at the "Starkville City Jail" and his lifelong story of redemption. Johnny Cash was arrested in Starkville, Mississippi, on May 11, 1965, for public drunkeness following a performance at Mississippi State University. He wrote the song, “Starkville City Jail,” and performed it at his legendary San Quentin State Prison concert on Feb. 24, 1969. Cash played at MSU again in 1970 and gave many of the officers involved with his arrest front row tickets to the performance.
The Starkville community decided that it's time to formally recognize the depth and humanity of the Man in Black. As a result, the city of Starkville will issue a posthumous pardon to Cash. Kathy Cash Tittle, the second oldest of the four Cash daughters, will accept the pardon on her father's behalf during the pardoning ceremony on November 3rd. The pardon doesn’t suggest that anyone condoned Cash’s behavior. It symbolically recognizes Cash as an imperfect human who made mistakes but gained insight and wisdom by learning from his indiscretions. It’s not about Johnny Cash getting arrested; it’s about what his life symbolized to so many people — that no matter what happens in life, you can redeem yourself.
The festival will close with a Redemption Service on Sunday, November 4th at 10:00am, featuring performances by Kevin Max and Johnny Cash’s sister, Joanne Cash, singing gospel music that Johnny Cash enjoyed. The service will be held at Lee Hall Auditorium on the MSU campus, and is free to the public.
For more information on the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival, visit the official website at www.pardonjohnnycash.com.
Read our review of Joanne Cash's Gospel here.