July 13--CLEMENT -- Musical talent has taken Dennis Cash places most of his life. And next month, it will land him a place in America's Old Time Music Hall of Fame in Anita, Iowa.
The hall has been in existence since 1976 and includes the likes of Hank Williams Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers.
But if there were a hall of fame for downright good-hearted guys, Dennis Cash would have been inducted long ago.
"Our place is filled on the evenings he's here," said Emily Kilgore, who works at Detour Coffee Shop in Hope Mills. "He has an awesome spirit, and he's really good at holding a room."
Cash, who grew up in a small town in Virginia listening to the likes of Flatt and Scruggs, the Wilburn Brothers and Porter Wagoner, is a professional musician who has performed all over the country with his bluegrass gospel band Carolina Sonshine.
He and his wife, Annette, moved to Sampson County several years ago, getting right to the business of being good neighbors. They are regular volunteers with the Salemburg Christian Food Bank, and Cash helped start a popular youth praise team at Baptist Chapel Baptist Church.
"I've done a lot of musically rewarding things," he said, "but nothing has been more rewarding than that."
Still, the notice of his hall of fame invitation in December meant a lot. Cash was invited by the hall's founder, Bob Everhart.
Cash, who grew up in a music-loving family and learned to play the autoharp, guitar, mandolin and banjo, has been called by his mentor Bill Clifton "the leading proponent of Carter Family music," in reference to the first vocal group to become country music stars. Cash has recorded two albums of Carter Family songs.
When officials with the hall of fame asked him to donate an artifact for its collection, he decided on the first autoharp his music-loving father Leslie gave him. Leslie Cash died in 2007.
"It's an 'el cheapo' Sears catalogue item," Cash said. "It's a way of honoring my dad. Daddy had an old radio on top of the fridge, and it was tuned to Grand Old Opry country music. I grew up listening to early country and early bluegrass. That's what I listened to whether I wanted to or not.
"If it hadn't been for dad and his love of music, I never would have been able to do the things I have," he said. "This is as much an honor for him as it is for me."
Cash and his Carolina Sonshine were nominated for six consecutive years as the gospel bluegrass band of the year. He's shared the stage with many of the greats, including Bill Monroe.
"You know there are presidents and all those people," he said, "but right next to God, Bill Monroe is pretty important to me."
And joining the likes of 2002 inductee Bill Monroe in the hall of fame will mean so much.
"You know, I know it's not the Country Music Hall of Fame," he said. "But I don't know if I'd feel much more honored if it had been.
"I've been fortunate to play all over the country," he said. "There are fine musicians way more talented than those of us who have been on stage all our lives.
"To get singled out. ... No words can say what that makes me feel like."
Community news editor Kim Hasty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3591.
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