Marty Stuart's Photographic Pilgrimage

This appeared on's website - November 4, 1999

Without once complaining of writer's cramp, Marty Stuart faithfully signed copies of his new photo-story book, Pilgrims: sinners, saints and prophets, for close to two hours on Tuesday (Nov. 2). Davis-Kidd Booksellers, in the Nashville suburb of Green Hills, hosted the signing and the reception afterward.

Well over 100 people turned out and it took on the air of a family reunion, as Marty's friends, many of whom are featured in the book, came by to offer hugs and congrats.

"I'm very pleased," Stuart told "[The turnout is] kind of a reflection of the book. In the book, there are all walks of life—all ages, all colors, all creeds—that's the kind of people I like to hang around and that's who showed up today."

Stuart started in the music business as a 12-year-old bluegrass mandolin/guitar player and, for the past 25 years, has snapped countless photos of fellow artists, mentors and regular folk.

"I never in my dreams thought that I would have anything published," Stuart said. "It's simply a hobby. It was interesting to watch [this book] grow. A lady named Ann Brown at the Nashville Arts Commission hung some of my photographs for an exhibit and more people saw them and took them to Cheekwood Gallery [in Nashville] and hung them there. Next thing I know, it became a book. I stood there watching it go by, overwhelmed the whole time. I wish records would happen that easy because records I try so hard on. This was effortless and now it has a life of its own."

Popular '70s country singer Connie Smith, now married to Stuart, was also on hand. How much influence did she have on this project? "I didn't really end up helping him," she told "He asked me about certain shots—there were some I would have loved to see in there and some I'd have taken out. But he ended up making all the final choices."

The photos are well worth a thousand words, but Stuart added his own words to the book as well. "I've kept up with all these stories down through the years," he said. "I collect stories the way I do guitars. In the tradition of the people in that book, there are a lot of great storytellers. And stories surrounding country music have always helped keep the music going, too."

After 25 years of "shutterbugging," does Stuart have enough pictures left over for a sequel? "I don't know about another photo book for another 20 years," he commented. "I want to keep writing, though. I've always felt like I've got two or three books living inside me. I don't have a clue as to what they are, but here's one of them. Could even be there is fiction inside of me. Truth is stranger than fiction, so they say."

Pilgrims: sinners, saints and prophets is a hardcover book, published by Rutledge-Hill Press, which carries a retail price of $29.95.

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