Faye Northcutt Knox cuts wide path in arts

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Faye Northcutt Knox has been reading newspapers since “before first grade.”

You might be asking, how can someone grasp what’s in newspapers before they “learn to read” at school?

“I knew who Jack Knox was, for example, by age 5, for he was the one who drew the editorial cartoons in the old Nashville Banner,” Faye cut a path back in time. “My father, (Dude Northcutt) who is a young 98, had my brother (Woodbury attorney (City Judge) Richard Northcutt) and I reading newspapers and keeping up with current events, virtually, all our lives…”

Mr. Northcutt still cuts a “dashing figure” in community circles, as he continues to “drive himself” to and from Senior Citizen lunches, etc. Although he’ll be 99 next March, the remarkably agile gent still “mows his own lawn.”
“I hope to stay as active in life as I can, as inspired by my own father,” Faye noted.

Fate and Faye have journeyed “excitedly” through life’s trails…how else to explain the Woodbury community activists’ multiple impacts in life?

No one, for instance, forecast the Cannon County native girl would one day “wed” Britt Knox, son of famous cartoonist Jack and Edith “Speedy” Knox.

“I do consider it fate that I met and married the son in such a creative family,” Faye noted. “Britt and I met, and ultimately married in 1990, five years after his nationally-acclaimed father (Banner editorial cartoonist/author Jack Knox) passed away.

“Although I knew who Jack Knox was all my life from the Banner (Nashville’s afternoon newspaper that went defunct in 1995), I didn’t realize until Britt and I wed how impactful his father had been in national political and major media circles,” Faye added. “U.S. presidents knew Jack Knox and his work. He was a major force in newspaper annals from the 1940s until his retirement in the 1970s.”

Edith “Speedy” Knox died at age 97 in 2009, after living multiple years with Faye and Britt Knox in Woodbury.

Faye was born the daughter of Annie and Dude Northcutt. Her mother was the daughter of Cannon County farmer Sam “Poppa” and May Arnett Lefevers, who had multiple Arnett relatives in Rutherford County.

She “loved” attending Woodbury public schools.

“I graduated from old Central High School (in Woodbury) in 1958, some of the happiest years of my life,” Faye traced her fateful footsteps back in time. “I was a cheerleader for the mighty Central High Lions all four years, when I learned football. I still love football. We had wonderful educators, including legendary Superintendent of Schools Barney Bragg.”

Fast forward to the 21st Century, as Faye and her brother, Woodbury City Judge Richard Northcutt, have helped weave their imprints on present-day “culture” and “arts” in Cannon County.

Faye’s “interest” in the arts began early in life, including school plays back in high school under the direction of Central High teacher Gladys (no relation) Northcutt, who “directed” junior and senior class plays.

“She was a big inspiration in our lives, so yes, that was my introduction to acting in local plays and productions,” Faye accounted. “Language teachers Mrs. Bass and Louise Petitt helped introduce me to poetry and literature, subjects that still interest me.”

Today, Faye is regionally-acclaimed for “her character-acting” in multiple plays at the nationally-acclaimed Arts Center of Cannon County.

It’s the “Arts Center” that sets Faye and her community up for recognition not only in Middle Tennessee, but national awards.

She and her family were early catalysts that set in motion the Arts Center as a cultural icon of Cannon community life.

“Brother Richard started out his involvement early in life when he got interested in the ‘Circle Players’ of Nashville,” Faye noted. “Later, we shared an interest in forming the ‘Cannon Community Playhouse’ in the basement of old Central High’s gymnasium.”

Community interest quickly outgrew the old school’s gym.

“When the community wanted to expand, Richard approached Bill Smith (influential Woodbury banker now retired), (the late) Dr. Robert Mason, and Wilma Adams,” Faye accounted. “They were the ‘core group’ that became the ‘driving force” in realizing the community’s dream of an expanded Arts Center…”

With a ground-swell of community support, the “core group” initially met frustration when approaching Cannon County’s own elected state legislatures.

However, no one counted on them having an “unforeseen force” in the corridors of power at Nashville’s State Capitol.

“We ultimately approached John Bragg, who as the state representative of Rutherford County, was one of the most respected lawmakers in state legislative matters,” Faye traced. “Somehow, Mr. Bragg, who was a native of Cannon County, found us a matching $75,000 state grant.”

Where to locate the envisioned Arts Center?

No problem.

“Banker Bill Smith donated the land on the eastern-most boundary of Woodbury city limits, where today’s Arts Center of Cannon County sits as a symbol of all things cultural, crafts and arts in our Upper Cumberland region,” Faye detailed.

“We have a very ambitious Arts Center leading us into the new century,” Faye added.

Is it “fate” the futuristic Arts Center that has won multiple national awards is located at 1424 John Bragg Highway, named after the late John Bragg, whose family for multiple generations owned newspapers in Woodbury and multiple other Tennessee communities?

“Putting back into the community” is a key motivating force for Faye’s community activism, including serving on Woodbury’s City Council since 2000.

Her most recent Arts Center “play performance” was the “lead” in the outrageously funny “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Earlier this decade, she played in “On Golden Pond” plus other Arts Center productions that draws tourism dollars into Woodbury’s economy from throughout a multi-county region.



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