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Randy: Joanne Cash, good to meet you.
Joanne: Thank you very much, good to meet you, too.
Randy: I just saw on the news, kind of tragic--Johnny's old house.
Joanne: Johnny's main house burned down just a few days ago.
Randy: How long did he live in that one?
Joanne: Thirty-five, a little over thirty-five years, him and June.
Randy: So a lot of history there.
Joanne: Well, not only a lot of history but a lot of wonderful family things that we did together in that house, our whole family. That was the meeting place of our family get-togethers, Christmases, and just being together.
Randy: So it must have been difficult for you.
Joanne: It's very difficult. It was almost like Johnny passed away again. It was hard.
Randy: Now on the project, Johnny appears on there, there are some memories. I really enjoy the spoken word parts. When was that recorded, the part that Johnny had on there?
Joanne: You talking about his spoken words? You mean on my CD?
Randy: Yes, on the new CD.
Joanne: We did that a few years ago, but the other two that's on the CD, "Softly and Tenderly" and "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning" was the last two I recorded with Johnny, just a very short time before his passing. He chose those two songs himself, and the very last one I recorded with him was "Softly and Tenderly."
Randy: What year was that?
Joanne: Let's see...he passed away in 2003, it was probably about 2001.
Randy: So about six years ago now?
Joanne: Maybe it was 2002, I can't remember exactly the time.
Randy: Talk a little bit about with your husband you have the cowboy church.
Joanne: Yes, my husband and I pastor a church called Nashville Cowboy Church. We call it that because my husband is 150% cowboy. He was raised on a ranch in west Texas, so it's like God made a ministry just for him. It's a come-as-you-are church, it's inter-denominational.
Randy: What year was it established?
Joanne: 1990. We were on the road for fifteen years before that, all over the United States and several countries, preaching and singing. He preached, I sang, and we've just been in ministry since 1970.
Randy: Closing in on the 20-year anniversary of the church then.
Joanne: Yes we are! It's been absolutely wonderful and it's still very alive, very wonderful and real church.
Randy: You're still singing regularly?
Joanne: Yes, I am. I am every Sunday. I do a concert at Opryland every Tuesday night, at a resort. Windham Resort.
Randy: Speaking of doing the regular concerts, you were with the Grand Ole Opry for a while, was that in the 70s?
Joanne: That was in the early 70s, yes. From 1970 to '75 we sang every Friday night on the Grand Ole Opry at the end of a program called Grand Ole Gospel Time. And then from there, 1975 the Lord called us to the road on full time ministry for fifteen years until we came back in 1990 and started the church up.
Randy: Talking about the record a little bit, one of the images that really caught my eye was the song about kicking up gravel. What year was that recorded?
Joanne: It's been about five years ago I guess I recorded that, on a CD called End of the Blue, that's from another CD, and it's a true story. I was down at the Pensacola revival, took some ladies down there from my church, there was a preacher friend from east Tennessee, was telling me that story about a woman in their town that was a prostitute. He said the whole town was praying for her and one day she really did come to church and she gave her heart to the Lord and got so excited that she ran out the side door, ran around the church, and he said in a very country tone, "She was a-kickin' up gravel head high." So we wrote that song and I have not met this preacher again. I'd like to someday get him to hear it and say, "I wrote that song from the story you told me."
Randy: That's great. I really really enjoyed that. I believe it was your husband that wrote "Cotton...
Joanne: "Cotton, Popcorn, Peanuts and Jesus" and also "Glory, Glory" about my brother Jack and his death, his going to heaven.
Randy: I kind of felt like that gave a little insight to your background, brought it home, made it personal.
Joanne: Cotton, popcorn, peanuts and Jesus was what I was raised on. Cotton fields and very hard work. Johnny's portrayed that same story over and over many times that he's written books and given interviews. It was a very hard life in our early years on the farm.
Randy: How old were you when you left the farm?
Joanne: I guess I was seventeen. Sixteen, seventeen years old.
Randy: So pretty much high school age.
Joanne: Yes. I went into a marriage that didn't work, right out of high school, and I have three beautiful children, a son and two daughters. I have a fine daughter-in-law, Grace, is married to our son Jeff. My husband has three children, two sons and a daughter, and I have two daughters and a son so we call ourself the Brady Bunch.
Randy: You have big gatherings.
Joanne: We do!
Randy: What are the plans for the future, you putting another project together? Doing some more recording?
Joanne: Yes, we have some tentative plans to do another recording sometime soon whenever we can. Possibly a duet CD. That's in the making.
Randy: You have a variety of artists on the duet CD, call some of your old friends and bring them in?
Randy: Wonderful. How long has it been since your last recording?
Joanne: Just before Johnny passed.
Randy: I certainly would like to encourage you to keep at it!
Joanne: Johnny told me something before he passed away. I said, "Some people might think I'm trying to use your name to launch a career. And I'm not trying to do that." He looked at me right in the eye and he said, "Baby, you keep on singing, you keep on singing as long as you can sing, sing with all your heart, and sing for the Lord." And so that's what I'm going to do. My brother Tommy and me are carrying on the Cash tradition, the Cash name and the family.
Randy: Where does Tommy fit in age-wise?
Joanne: Tommy's the youngest, I'm next to youngest, and Tommy will be at the concert tonight. I'm going at 9:30 and he'll be right there in front of me in the audience. He called me a little while ago and said he wanted to let me know that he'd be there, so I'm happy about that.
Randy: You mentioned some of the bio stuff, you went through some struggles for a while there.
Joanne: Yes, I did.
Randy: What time frame was that?
Joanne: Well, I found the Lord in a very real and personal way in 1970, and that was the years before that. Like I said, I'd come out of a very bad marriage, and my life was really messed up, and then I found the Lord in 1970. Glorious salvation and deliverance from the drugs and alcohol and all the mess my life had gotten into. The Lord literally made a new creature out of me, like he does all of us when we accept Him.
Randy: No doubt. And of course, Johnny's history was well-documented. Do you think that affected you as far as watching your brother?
Joanne: Well, yes, we kind of affected each other. Johnny knew what I was, the kind of life I had lived, and so after when I gave my life to the Lord he kind of watched me, about three weeks. Then one day he came to me and he said, "Baby, you really got it in you." I said, "Yes, I do, John, I'm praying for you." And he said, "Well, good." Then he rededicated his life back to the Lord in '72. Of course he had his ups and downs, and we all do. We all do, our human side. But, I know that I know that he's in heaven. He said, "I can hardly wait." So, it's going to be a great reunion.
Randy: I really enjoyed the song he wrote in Jerusalem.
Joanne: "When He Comes." That's a beautiful song. He's recorded that with me. He sang it with June on the Billy Graham crusade several times I think.
Randy: Had it been recorded?
Joanne: He had recorded it with June several years ago, I asked him on one of my last CDs I said, "I need another song, I want you to sing with me." He said, "I've got just the song." And he told the story that's portrayed on my CD and he said, "Let's sing it." And I said, "That's good." He chose that.
Randy: That's special.
Joanne: Yes, it is.
Randy: I really appreciate you taking your time, I know you're busy, I know these days get long.
Joanne: Thank you. They do. But that's part of it. That's what we do.
Randy: But you're doing a great job hanging in there and I really enjoyed sitting down with you. It's been one of the highlights of this GMA week.
Joanne: I appreciate that. Thank you so much!