Stuart Keeps Genre Close To His Heart

This appeared in the Regina Leader-Post - July 28, 2011

"Let go of what you love and if it returns to you, it was meant to be." Such a quote couldn't be more true for music superstar Marty Stuart and his undying passion for traditional country, the music that helped shape his career.

Simply hearing the name Marty Stuart conjures up images of a rockabilly country star with wild hair and flamboyant attire, impressing audiences with an impeccable guitar style and brilliant voice. While this period in his career did garner him much of his success, what isn't commonly know about Stuart is that it is actually the down-home traditional country music that gave him his start, where his heart will always be, and what drives his creativity today.

A self-taught guitar and mandolin player, Stuart soon became obsessed with the genre and would get his first big break playing with the legendary Lester Flatt at the ripe, young age of 13. This chance moment in time would shape a career filled with Grammy awards, appearances at the Grand Ole Opry, a personal museum carrying over 20,000 pieces of country memorabilia, a No. 1 hit television show (featuring nothing but traditional country music), along with many other notable accolades.

When asked where his passion for country music first came from Stuart reflects, "As a kid when the British Invasion hit, traditional country ended up being the music that I fell in love with. To be honest, it levelled me."

As the years went by, Stuart began to notice that the music he once loved so dear was quickly losing its appeal and essentially on the verge of extinction. It was at this moment that he knew something drastic had to be done and there had to be someone leading the brigade.

"Merle Haggard once told me that (in his eyes) the traditional country musicians of our time were starting to become the forgotten people. I knew then and there that I had to save the genre by basically rebuilding it; so over the next four to five years I decided to take my case to the people," Stuart notes vividly, "It was something that needed to be done".

Refuelling the fire in the hearts and minds of traditional country fans (all while garnering a whole new audience) would be no easy task but it certainly was one that Stuart was willing to tackle. His mission included such memorable ideas as the un-leashing of his successful TV show, The Marty Stuart Show in 2008. A show dedicated entirely to traditional country music that opened the eyes of his viewing audience to popular music featured on hit country shows of the past such as Hee-Haw and The Porter Wagoner Show.

The most recent idea would be born in his latest album, Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions. Recorded in the famous Nashville Studio (and historically where Stuart would record his first song with Lester Flatts) Ghost Train not only features a collaboration with longtime friend, Johnny Cash, it is also an album full of tributes and farewells to the musicians of the musical style he holds so close to his heart. Performed, of course, in his own unique way.

"I feel like I'm dead centre in the middle of my destiny, and you know what - I'm loving it!" he says with a smile.

By Taron Cochrane

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