Johnny Cash Thanksgiving Prayer
AP Photo/Ron Frehm

Johnny Cash Headlined the First Major Event at Oral Roberts University's Basketball Arena

Oral Roberts University (ORU), a private Christian university in Tulsa, Oklahoma with around 4,000 students, shocked the sports world recently when its men's basketball team defeated Ohio State and Florida en route to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.

As it turns out, the first big-ticket event at ORU's basketball arena, the Mabee Center, wasn't a game involving ORU. Instead, it was an Oct. 27, 1972 appearance by Johnny Cash.

The Man in Black and usual tour mates The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and June Carter Cash first graced a stage that'd later host such Nashville stars as Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Judds and Randy Travis.

The Mabee Center's also become a go-to venue for such Christian acts as The Gaither Trio and Amy Grant.

"While the arena's exterior and interior have a decidedly '70s look, the Frank Wallace-designed Mabee Center remains an effective venue for events ranging from Golden Eagle basketball to Christian concerts, from church services to inter-tribal pow-wows and from high school commencement ceremonies to the annual Miss Oklahoma pageant," reads the ORU Conference and Events Service's description of the multi-use facility.

Cash felt at home in Christian environments. A believer himself, the Man in Black appeared onstage numerous times over the years with his friend Billy Graham. He also guest-starred at least once on Oral Roberts' weekly television program.

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A quality soundboard recording, sometimes listed as a Cash concert at the Oral Roberts University Center, has the following setlist. It's a healthy mix of gospel material and Kris Kristofferson covers plus Cash and Carter-Cash duets and songs representing the state of country and folk music in 1972.

The Johnny Cash Show Setlist From Oct. 27, 1972

01 "Sunday Morning Coming Down" (cut)
02 "Tennessee Flat Top Box"
03 "Oney"
04 "These Hands"
05 "I Still Miss Someone" - "Me And Bobby McGee"
06 "Orleans Parish Prison"
07 "Help Me" - "Jesus Was A Carpenter"
08 "Five Feet High And Risin'"
09 "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" (with Carl Perkins)
10 "Orange Blossom Special"
11 "Folsom Prison Blues"
12 "I Walk The Line" - "Jackson" (with June Carter)
13 "If I Were A Carpenter" - "Help Me Make It Through The Night" (with June Carter)
14 "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" - "Daddy Sang Bass"
15 "I See Men As Trees Walking" - "Last Supper"
16 "Children, Go Where I Send Thee"
17 "Peace In The Valley"
18 "A Thing Called Love"