Music business legend Bill Carter has received the Crystal Award from the Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism, in recognition of his efforts, in collaboration with Arkansas State University (ASU), to restore the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in the Depression-era agricultural resettlement colony of Dyess.
Carter, who hails from Rector, Arkansas, has executive-produced the first two annual Johnny Cash Music Festivals, both held the past two years at the ASU Convocation Center in in Jonesboro. Star-studded, the concerts have raised money for the restoration of the Cash home.
Johnny Cash moved to Dyess with his family when he was three, and lived there until he graduated high school in 1950. The family home was appraised at $100,000 when ASU acquired it, largely due to its historical significance. The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project also includes the town’s administration building and theater—the latter facility, which had only its front façade standing, to be rebuilt for use as a visitors center.
The Dyess community, which is located near ASU in Jonesboro, was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s as a Depression-era agricultural resettlement colony. Part of the New Deal program, it provided an opportunity for destitute farmers, who were advanced 20 or 40 acres of farmland, a mule, a small home and money to buy food and plant crops--with the understanding that if they were successful they'd pay back the government.
Now living in Nashville, Carter is also known for his work in country music management (clients having included Reba McEntire, Rodney Crowell and Carlene Carter) following a celebrated stint as the Rolling Stones lawyer, extensively recounted in Keith Richards’ bestselling memoir Life. He also served as a secret service agent for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson (related in his own autobiography Get Carter) and currently produces shows for Southern gospel star/entrepreneur Bill Gaither.
“I want to thank the Department of Tourism for this prestigious honor and I accept this award on behalf of [Cash’s children] Rosanne and John Carter Cash, Kirkley Thomas, whose idea the restoration was, Ruth Hawkins and Paula Miles of ASU, who took the idea and ran with it, Christy Valentine, Derek Bowman, the entire ASU and Convocation Center staff, and the hundreds of volunteers who worked hard to make the festival a success," Carter said in accepting the Crystal Award.
Meanwhile, it was announced that he will be inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame during a ceremony to be held June 8 in Hot Springs.
[The Examiner wrote the Foreward to Bill Carter's memoir Get Carter--Backstage In History From JFK's Assassination To The Rolling Stones.]
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