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Roanne Cash to Receive MacDowell Medal

Roanne Cash to Receive MacDowell Medal

Composer and performer Rosanne Cash will receive the prestigious Edward MacDowell Medal, but the public celebration - with the Medalist in attendance - will have to wait a year. The MacDowell Colony, after shuttering operations in March, has decided to postpone the popular annual Medal Day ceremony, working studio visits, and picnic lunch until August 2021.

Cash will receive the Edward MacDowell Medal during a free, public event on August 8, 2021 from newly appointed Board of Directors Chair Nell Painter. The Medal, which has rotated annually among all disciplines practiced at MacDowell, has been awarded since 1960 to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to American culture. The presentation, which often draws more than 1200 visitors from around the country to MacDowell's 450-acre wooded campus, offers the public the opportunity to visit 32 open, working studios to see art being created and speak to its creators.

Cash, a Grammy-winning composer, performer, songwriter, best-selling author, and essayist, said she was "profoundly humbled to be chosen" as the 61st Edward MacDowell Medalist. "To be included in a list with Aaron Copland, Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison, and so many more distinguished artists, is beyond my imagining - something I would not have dared to dream or even consider," said Cash. "I do not place myself in any way equal, but I accept this honor with deepest gratitude, as an encouragement to do my best work, and in the service of future inspiration. My heart is full with this precious recognition."

"From the shockingly intimate timbre of Seven Year Ache in 1981 to the reflective darkness of She Remembers Everything 37 years later, as a composer, singer, and someone who can, in a sense, summon ambiance, Rosanne Cash has distinguished herself from her contemporaries as she has escaped the weight of her celebrated forebears," said Greil Marcus, chairman of the this year's MacDowell Medal selection panel.

Marcus is the author of Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs, and many other books, and is a longtime music journalist and critic. Joining him on the selection panel were American music critic and arts administrator John Rockwell, musicologist, author, and professor Mary E. Davis, Yale University professor and cultural critic Daphne Brooks, and MacDowell Board member and WQXR radio host Terrance McKnight.

Cash has composed Americana, rock, blues, folk, and pop, expanding her impact on American culture across musical genres. She joins an august group of other MacDowell Medal winners such as Thornton Wilder (1960), Georgia O'Keeffe (1972), Virgil Thomson (1977), Louise Bourgeois (1990), Toni Morrison (2016), and composers Aaron Copland (1961), Leonard Bernstein (1987), David Diamond (1991), Sonny Rollins (2010), and Stephen Sondheim (2013).

Cash has released 15 albums, has earned four Grammy Awards and 12 nominations, including the 2019 nomination for her song "Crossing to Jerusalem," from her latest album, She Remembers Everything. In addition to being one of the country's pre-eminent singer-songwriters, she is also an author whose four books include the best-selling memoir Composed, which the Chicago Tribune called "one of the best accounts of an American life you'll likely ever read." Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Oxford-American, The Nation, and many more publications.

MacDowell Colony Chairman, Fellow, and best-selling author Nell Painter will present the Edward MacDowell Medal to Cash, along with MacDowell Board President Andrew Senchak, Executive Director Philip Himberg, and Resident Director David Macy. With large public gatherings deemed inadvisable in the near term, the ceremony will be deferred to Sunday, August 8, 2021 at the MacDowell Colony grounds. Medal Day marks the one day each year that the Colony is open to the public. This free, public arts event is made possible with the support of generous contributors and business sponsors. For more information, please visit

Portrait above by Michael Lavine.

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