Rosanne Cash has won the 2021 Edward MacDowell Medal, though the prize ceremony in her honor won’t take place until August 8th, 2021 due to the coronavirus.
Named after the composer Edward MacDowell, the MacDowell Medal honors artists who have made significant contributions to American culture. Previous winners include Georgia O’Keeffe, John Updike, Leonard Bernstein, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, David Lynch and more. Cash is the 61st recipient of the award.
“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,” Cash said in a statement. “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.”
Greil Marcus, longtime music critic and author, is the chairman of this year’s selection panel. “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,” Marcus said in a statement.
The award will be presented by MacDowell chairman, fellow and author Nell Painter, as well as board president Andrew Senchak and others. The postponed ceremony will take place at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, a 450-acre campus that only opens to the public for the annual event.
Cash released her last LP, She Remembers Everything, in 2018. “I thought that even if it sold five records and the arts centers didn’t want me, I had to do it,” she told Rolling Stone of the record last year. “I had to write and record these really personal, gothic, female songs. It felt like a deathbed wish. That’s dramatic and as far as I know, I’m not dying, but it felt that urgent. Reckoning with mortality, feminist rage and sorrow, trauma and love and a long-term relationship. I had to document it all.”