Joanne Cash speaks about her brother Johnny and the new festival in his honour that's begun in Stanthorpe.
Joanne Cash speaks about her brother Johnny and the new festival in his honour that's begun in Stanthorpe. Contributed

LISTEN: Johnny Cash's sister says 'remember who he was'

DONNED in black, cheeky grin blazed across his face - the late, great Johnny Cash is smiling down on Stanthorpe, according to the icon's sister, Joanne Cash.

"Johnny was a wonderful, wonderful person... besides being a very talented singer," the music legend's youngest sister, Joanne said.

Speaking to the Border Post from her Nashville home, Joanne is full of praise for Stanthorpe's attempt to continue her brother's legacy.

This November we'll see the second chapter of the Johnny Cash Country Festival - with full backing from the Cash family.

"I'm always glad that Johnny's memory will be carried on in the right way. Festivals are things that honour him. I really want for it to honour him and nothing else.

"Remember who he was and what he stood for - for God and family and country."

His love affair and time on the Granite Belt continues to mystify and excite.Joanne said he loved to find motivation in new places.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash with former Blue Nursing Supervisor Pat Neilsen and administrator Peter Lee.
ohnny Cash and June Carter Cash with former Blue Nursing Supervisor Pat Neilsen and administrator Peter Lee - the beginnings of Stanthorpe's Johnny Cash Country Music Festival. File

"He loved Australia. He loved to go and share his music and his talents with different parts of the world and they always received him and honoured him and Johnny was always thankful of that.

"When he was at home he was just family, he was just my brother. We had dinner together, we had lunch together, we had family gatherings... just like any family would. He was just a country boy.

"But when he went on stage he was Johnny Cash, he was the Man in Black and he loved to perform.

"He said to me one time 'I am my happiest when I'm on stage'."

Joanne continued in her brother's footsteps, forging her own music career. She's just celebrated the release of her 30th studio album, Unbroken.

She's also involved in the organisation of the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, which runs for three days in Dyess, Arkansas, where Johnny grew up.

This year's incarnation is being headed up by Grammy Award winning producer/performer and son of the man himself, John Carter Cash, who coincidentally only reportedly swung through Stanthorpe a few months ago.

At the end of the day, for Joanne, it's purely about honouring her big brother. From dirt poor on an Arkansas cotton farm to the heights of music stardom, Joanne was by her brother's side for all of it and likes to think back on the man outside the limelight.

"He was very laid back, sometimes he was funny, sometimes he'd just sit and listen to our conversations and join in and give his opinion and he was a very spiritual man, he loved the Lord, he loved the Bible."

While local festival organisers would love to lure her to Stanthorpe, Joanne said she's "pretty well up in years" and doesn't expect she'll be boarding a plane to Queensland any time soon. She does however send her love and thanks.

"Thank you very much for all your hard work and putting this festival together. I appreciate it and I speak for the Cash family - we all appreciate what you're doing and we ask you to continue to have these festivals.

"Thank you to all the fans that come out and support these festivals. If Johnny's looking down from heaven, then I'm sure he's very pleased and very happy and grateful to all of the fans that come to these festivals.

"I ask you, with all my heart, that you will continue to sing Johnny Cash's songs. He was a wonderful brother and we look forward to seeing him again one day in heaven."