May 07, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

photo credit: Clay Patrick McBride

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As part of Bucknell University's Commencement weekend festivities, Bucknell University will welcome Americana singer-songwriter and Grammy Award winner Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal on Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.

The media sponsor for the event is WXPN-FM.

The eldest daughter of country music icon Johnny Cash and stepdaughter of June Carter Cash of the legendary Carter Family, Cash's musical and family legacy is rooted in the very beginnings of American country music with its deep cultural and historical connections to the south.

Her own thoughtful, genre-blurring approach encompasses country, rock, roots and pop influences. She has charted 21 Top 40 country singles including 11 number ones, received a Grammy, and has earned 12 Grammy nominations.

On her 2009 album The List, Cash recorded 12 songs from the list of "100 essential country songs" that her father compiled for her and instructed her to learn when she was 18 and about to join his road show. The List received two Grammy nominations and won the Americana Music Association Awards' 2010 Album of the Year.

In addition, her best-selling 2010 memoir, Composed, was described by the Chicago Tribune as "one of the best accounts of an American life you will likely ever read."

Cash's new show celebrates the release of her much anticipated new album, The River and the Thread (January 2014, Blue Note Records), a collection of new original songs that connect and re-connect her to the American South, the place of her birth and the home of her ancestors.

Cash recently appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's Morning Edition and World Café with David Dye and in a Newsweek article to support the new album.

About the New Album, The River and the Thread
The River and the Thread is a poetic survey of places and people of The South on the beautiful and varied songs written with her collaborator, musical director and husband, John Leventhal.

Featuring a long list of guests-from young guns like John Paul White and Derek Trucks to such legends as John Prine, Rodney Crowell, Kris Kristofferson, and Tony Joe White-The River and the Thread is a kaleidoscopic examination of the geographic, emotional and historic landscape of the American South. The album's unique sound, which draws from country, blues, gospel and rock, reflects the soulful mix of music that traces its history to the region.

Of the album, Cash says, "I went back to where I was born, and these songs started arriving in me. All these things happened that made me feel a deeper connection to the South than I ever had. We started finding these great stories and the melodies that went with those experiences. I feel this record ties past and present together through all those people and places in the South I knew and thought I had left behind."

The album reflects journeys through the Southern states, with stops at William Faulkner's house; Dockery Farms, the plantation where Howlin' Wolf and Charley Patton worked and sang; her father's boyhood home in Dyess, Ark.; the Sun Records Studio in Memphis; and the Mississippi Delta, with its memories of the birth of the Civil Rights era and the haunting gravesite of the great bluesman Robert Johnson.

"The thread" in the album's title comes from Cash's friend Natalie Chanin, a master seamstress in Florence, Ala. "Natalie was teaching me to sew," says Cash, "and she said, 'You have to learn to love the thread,' in this beautiful accent, and it hit me as an enormous metaphor." The line appears in the album's opener, "A Feather's Not a Bird," a deeply swampy shuffle which Cash describes as "a mini-travelogue of the South, and of the soul."

Several songs on The River and the Thread draw from stories and characters across generations of the Cash family. "Sunken Lands" is named for the area where Johnny Cash grew up and recounts the difficult life of his mother, Carrie. While the sparse, moody Southern pop of "The Long Way Home" draws on details from the lives of Cash and her family, she points out that "the sentiment is universal-most of us go a long way and try a lot of things before we come home to ourselves. To paraphrase Paul Theroux, 'We go away to find the changes in ourselves. We go away to find our place in the world.'"

All of these lines come together in "When the Master Calls the Roll," a song that Leventhal and Rodney Crowell initially were writing for Emmylou Harris. When Cash's son Jake was researching an 8th grade project on the Civil War, she reminded him that they had ancestors who fought on both sides of the conflict. When she clicked on the online Civil War database, she was stunned to see a photograph of William Cash from Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe says of The River and the Thread, "Cash comes full circle as a storyteller and singer of exceptional grace and grit. It's among her finest work in a 35-year career, assured and at ease, and one of 2014's first great albums." USA Today says, "A captivating and sometimes haunting album that's among the finest of her career."

Tickets Available April 4
Tickets for the performance are $30 for adults, $24 for seniors ages 62+, $20 for children under 18, $20 for non-Bucknell college students, $10 for Bucknell students (limit 2), and $20 for Bucknell employees (limit 2). Graduating Bucknell seniors will receive one complimentary ticket to the performance, which must be redeemed through the Campus Box Office.

Tickets can be purchased online beginning at 10 a.m. on April 4 at or by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000.

Tickets are also available in person from several locations including the Weis Center lobby weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore in Lewisburg weekdays and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 12:30 to 4 p.m.; and the CAP Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center, weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about this event, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by e-mail at

For more information about future programming at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to or

Commencement 2014
Bucknell University's 164th Commencement celebration will take place on Sunday, May 18, beginning at 10 a.m. Best-selling author and award-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn will deliver the keynote address. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be live streamed. The ceremony will also be shown in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts and Trout Auditorium in the Vaughan Literature Building. For a complete schedule of Commencement events, registration and general information, visit Commencement 2014.  

Weather Updates
Barring heavy rain or severe weather, the Commencement ceremony will be held on the Academic Quad; guests should dress accordingly. In the event inclement weather prompts a decision to hold the ceremony indoors, an alert will be emailed to the campus community and posted to the University's homepage and social media channels. For more information, read our Commencement FAQs.