Imagine "The Man in Black" at age five against a background of cotton fields, singing with his family while working with them. Then you might understand the sentiment behind the recent Johnny Cash Festival to raise funds and preserve the childhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, Arkansas, USA.

The four-hour long concert featured the Cash siblings Tommy and Joanne, his daughter Roseanne, son John Carter Cash and wife Laura, his ex-son in law Rodney Crowell and granddaughter Chelsea Crowell. Held at the Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, the show also had music stars Kris Kristofferson and George Jones entertaining an audience of 7,000 and paying tribute to one of the most famous names in country music. The proceeds from the concert will go to restoring the Cash childhood home and build a Johnny Cash Childhood Museum in the town.

John R. Cash was born on February 26, 1932 in Little Rock, one of seven children. Although he started writing songs when he was twelve years old, it was not until he was in the US Air Force during the Korean War that he bought his first guitar and taught himself how to play it. After his stint with the Air Force, Cash took a radio announcing course and started playing with a country music trio trying to break into big time music with radio performances and studio auditions.

Cash originally tried to establish himself as a gospel singer but was not successful. Switching to country, his maiden single hit number 14 on the country charts and earned him a spot on the radio and television country show The Louisiana Hayride. The following years saw Cash launching many hit singles and albums leading to his debut at the Grand Ole Opry where he appeared in the costume that earned him the nickname he bore all his life. In spite of this success, Cash could still not get approval to record the gospel album he so badly wanted to make. The rise in his career brought with it an increase in stress which led to a problem with drugs, an addiction he had to fight off and on throughout his life.

The drug problem also led to erratic and at times destructive behavior which took their toll on Cash's career. Converting to fundamentalist Christianity and getting married to his second wife June Carter helped Cash to bounce back with singles and chart-busting albums. He got his own television program, performed for US presidents and embarked on aggressive social involvement, especially for the civil rights of prisoners and Native Americans. In 1980, Johnny Cash became the youngest person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The following years were a series of ups and downs for Cash combining minor hits with some chart-busters and keeping his popularity alive on the concert tour. His health also started to deteriorate and in September 2003 he died of complications from diabetes at the age of 71.

That the legend of Johnny Cash lives on is best expressed in the title of his song "Ain't No Grave (Can Hold My Body Down)".