WEB EXTRA: Johnny Cash statue unveiled in Cooper-Young

Web Extras

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com)  More than 60 years after a legendary Johnny Cash performance in Memphis, a statue now stands to honor it.

The creator of the sculpture says it’s a monument to the rhythm, soul, and country of a city that often forgets that’s what makes it unique.

The unveiling of the sculpture marks the spot, letting folks know Johnny was here, but those associated with this project say it’s not just about a statue. It’s about a monument to culture and legacy.

It was a long time coming for this, and the day finally arrived Wednesday for the world to see Johnny Cash standing steps away from where he gave his first paid performance in 1954.

It’s been a long road raising the money. I didn’t know I was going to be the sculptor at the beginning of it all, says Mike McCarthy.

City, county, and neighborhood leaders stood shoulder to shoulder with musicians, music fans, and artists to get the first glimpse of McCarthy’s image of the man in black. Even Cash’s own nephew Roy Cash returned to the block where he witnessed his uncle’s historic serenade.

We knew at that time that he wanted to record, but he had not signed any contract. I don’t think he had, said Roy Cash. “This puts the cap on it.”

You’ve heard the old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it took that same village to erect a piece of art that does exactly what art is supposed to do; tell the story, without filters, of who we all are as people.

Every neighborhood has a hero. Imagine us doing this in Orange Mound with Willie Mitchell’s statue or going to Soulsville and doing something for Isaac Hayes or Otis Redding, says McCarthy.

McCarthy continued down the list of Memphis neighborhoods and world class talents associated with them.

Johnny Cash was a man of the people, regardless of race or class. The people and organizations responsible for this statue say it was meant for Cooper-Young.

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