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Southern Voices Guests 2011

Rosanne Cash

"One of the best accounts of an American life you'll likely ever read"  - Chicago Tribune

Friday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in the the Library Theatre - Reception follows.

Southern Voices warmly welcomes celebrated author/singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash to our conference. After the presentation, we invite you to join Ms. Cash on the Library Plaza for a reception, catered by The Wynfrey, and book signing. Books will be available for purchase.

Rosanne Cash is many things . . . daughter, wife and mother of five; celebrated singer, songwriter and acclaimed author.

The eldest child of country legend Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, Rosanne was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up atop a Southern California hillside with her three sisters. Her relationship with her father was a complicated one, fueled by his frequent absences and struggle with drugs.

After high school, Cash joined her father's road show for two and a half years, first as a wardrobe assistant, then as a background vocalist and occasional soloist. Opting for a change of venue, she moved to London, working at a recording studio for a short time. Cash then returned to Nashville, studying English and drama at Vanderbilt University, and drama later at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Hollywood, before focusing on her music. Her first album, recorded by a German studio in 1978, was never released in the United States.

In the 30 years since, Cash has released 14 albums, recorded 11 No. 1 singles, and won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1985.  Her most recent collection of songs, The List, was named Album of the Year at the 2010 Americana Honors and Award Show.

Cash’s writing abilities have not been limited strictly to music, however.  Her highly personal, yet universally appealing  style is also manifest in her prose career. She has published a collection of short stories, Bodies of Water; a children's book, Penelope Jane: A Fairy’s Tale, and her essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and New York magazine. Her long-awaited memoir, Composed, was released last year to much critical acclaim. As one critic stated, “As moving, disarming, and elusive as one of her classic songs, Composed is Rosanne Cash's luminous testament to the power of art, tradition, and love to transform a life.”

Adriana Trigiani, best-selling author and Southern Voices alumnus, said of the book, “Rosanne Cash has written a lush and glorious memoir that is wise and knowing, humorous and full of hope. The scenes from her life play through like a song, with operatic twists and quiet turns that inevitably lead her home. Composed is powerful and whole and completely unforgettable.”

Join us to hear Cash discuss her life and memoir. Cash currently lives in New York City with her husband, producer and guitarist John Leventhal.

Elizabeth Strout

Keynote address: Elizabeth Strout grew up isolated, by her parents’ choice, with no television, no newspapers, no parties, no dates or socializing with friends. Instead, she filled her days with writing. College gave her a glimpse of the real world, and following graduation with a degree in English, she took a series of jobs - secretary, barmaid, mattress salesperson - before obtaining a law degree. She later moved to New York City, where she began teaching English at a community college while continuing to write. Her most recent work, Olive Kitteridge, a novel in stories, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a New York Times best seller. She is also the author of two previous best-selling novels, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle.

Batt Humphreys

Batt Humphreys spent 15 years at CBS News in New York, the majority as a senior producer. He managed the coverage of many events that shaped recent history, including the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Humphreys, a Georgia native, returned to his beloved South in 2007, settling in Charleston, South Carolina. His debut novel, Dead Weight, was inspired by one of the city’s century-old trials, and earned an Independent Publisher Award and the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award for best work of historical fiction.

Adam Ross

Adam Ross was born and raised in New York City, was a state wrestling champ and child actor, appearing in commercials, television and movies, including, most notably, The Seduction of Joe Tynan. A graduate of Vassar College, Ross also holds M.A. and M.F.A degrees in creative writing. Ross and his wife relocated to Nashville in 1995 where he worked for a number of years as a feature writer and special projects editor for the Nashville Scene, the city’s alternative weekly.
Mr. Peanut is his debut novel.

Helen Simonson

Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics and a former travel advertising executive, she has lived in America for more than 20 years, first as a longtime (and proud) resident of Brooklyn, and currently in the Washington, D.C. area. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, a New York Times best seller, is her first novel.

Neil White

Neil White has been a newspaper editor, magazine publisher, advertising executive and federal prisoner. His memoir, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, focuses on the 18 months he spent incarcerated in a Carville, Louisiana prison – a prison which shared space with the country’s last leprosarium and its residents. White presently lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where he operates a small publishing company, writes plays and essays, and teaches memoir writing.

Susan Rebecca White

Susan Rebecca White reads (a lot), writes, teaches, cooks, eats (a lot), walks the dog (not as much as she’d like), spends time with her husband, writer Alan Deutschman, and eats meals with friends. Born and raised in Atlanta, she spent many years in San Francisco before returning to her hometown where she now teaches creative writing at Emory University. She is the author of two acclaimed novels, Bound South and A Soft Place to Land.

Emily Giffin

Closing address: Emily Giffin is a Chicago native who graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, Giffin practiced litigation in Manhattan for several years while paying back her school loans and penning a novel in her spare time. Although her first manuscript was rejected, Giffin persisted, moving to London to follow her dream and write full time. Her novel, Something Borrowed, followed a year later. She has since written four more New York Times best sellers, including Heart of the Matter. Her novels have been translated into 29 languages with five million copies in print. The movie adaptation of Something Borrowed, starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson and Colin Egglesfield, is scheduled for release this year.

Debra Riffe

On Exhibit: A Tupelo, Mississippi native, Debra Eubanks Riffe is a graduate of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts where she obtained a degree in illustration. Riffe worked in Washington, D.C. for several years before relocating to the coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia, South America. She has called Birmingham home since 1996.

After returning from South America, Riffe rediscovered her love of illustrating while teaching herself to needlepoint. In 2004, she decided to convert her needlepoint art into designs for linoleum block relief prints.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards, and in 2008, received a Grant to Individual Artists (GIA) funded by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham. During 2010, she received the Best in Show Award at the Aldridge Gardens’ Art Show and the Award of Excellence at the Montevallo Art Show. She has taught linoleum block printing both locally and regionally, and currently teaches at Samford University.

Riffe states, “Printmaking is such an adaptable medium. The possibilities are endless. I enjoy the immediacy of sketching my ideas with a pencil, the versatility of cutting a linoleum block surface with various gouges and the physicality of inking the block and turning the wheel of a printing press. I relish the tactile quality of fine printmaking paper. No matter how much I plan each design, it is always a surprise to see the finished product."

"My compositions are exclusively images of African Americans in rural Southern surroundings, performing everyday tasks in timeless, solitary reflective moments. At first glance, my figures appear to be anonymous. However, upon closer examination, the viewer quickly recognizes an activity or a place long forgotten."