There is more than the legend of Johnny Cash that lives on. There is even more than his timeless music. There is also one of his dreams — to help build a hospital in Kenya — an idea of Reverend Jack Shaw who was one of Cash’s closest friends and spiritual advisers. On September 17, 1991, The Johnny Cash Show performed a benefit concert for that purpose at the Greater Johnstown Christian Fellowship Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Now that heartfelt concert, featuring quintessential performances of many Cash classics just before he was about to redefine his career and gain a new generation of fans around the world, is available for the first time on DVD with “Cash For Kenya: Live In Johnstown” (Mercury Nashville/UMe), to be released October 21, 2008.
Reverend Jack Shaw, who co-produced the DVD, continues to lead the effort to build not only the hospital in Nakuru, Kenya, but also a center for education to help prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases plaguing Africa.
Writes John Carter Cash in the liner notes: “My father is still here in spirit and his enlightened passion endures. His wish to see the continuance of Jack’s vision is coming true, in numerous ways. So as you watch this concert, and are taken in by the man’s music, his charm and charisma, remember what he is singing for. And remember the hope that drives him and those who still share his hope.”
Along with wife June Carter Cash, son John Carter Cash, The Carter Family, and the rest of the Johnny Cash Show players, the man himself is as inspired on “Cash For Kenya: Live In Johnstown” as he ever was. His enthusiasm towards his audience is earnest, his inexhaustible spirit dominating the stage as he performs hits spanning his career, from “Get Rhythm” and “Ring Of Fire” to “Jackson,” “If I Were A Carpenter” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” The concert also emphasizes the downhome traditional, with “The Wabash Cannonball,” “Peace In The Valley,” “Keep On the Sunnyside,” “Lonesome Valley” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
Among the rarely recorded, in the studio or live, are “Man In White,” “Angel Band,” “Beautiful Life” and “The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All.” Also heard are “A Thing Called Love,” “Five Feet High And Rising” and “Pickin’ Time.”
At the time of the Johnstown concert, the Kenyan hospital was a dream. Today, that dream is becoming a reality — and Johnny Cash is still helping to make it happen.