Marty Stuart

This appeared in Music City News - June 1995

It was just a while back that Marty Stuart stopped by a gypsy fortune-teller booth at a fair in Colorado. He paid the fortune-teller to tell him about his future. It's not so much that his hillbilly rocker is the gypsy-junkie type but, undoubtedly, this was a lark. "She took one look at my hand and gave me my money back," tells Stuart. "It shakes me sometimes when I think about it. She said the job was too big for her to handle."

It's no doubt that Stuart's future is a hard one to read. He's long been one of country music's entertainers most likely to surprise his listeners and fans with something fresh and provocative. His list of musical triumphs already includes two Grammys, a CMA award, a TNN Music City News Country award, a gold album, a string of hit songs and the brand new release of his "Marty Party Hit Pack."

Even with such versatility surging through his career, Stuart has remained true to his traditional roots--taking on the role of hillbilly hero just over five years ago and embarking on a solo quest to pour classic country tradition into a progressive style. He did just that with the release of his debut MCA album, "Hillbilly Rock." Following a series of significant hits, he eventually teamed up with Travis Tritt for the phenomenal "No Hats Tour," which featured both artists co-headlining one of the most impacting country tours to date. Duets with Tritt like This One's Gonna Hurt You and The Whiskey Ain't Workin' latched the two hatless acts with fame and a fan-following beyond belief.

This year, the singer/songwriter/musician adds to this accomplished list by co-hosting the TNN Music City News Country Awards with Charley Pride and Martina McBride. For Stuart, his invitation to co-host seems only natural. He's become a fan-favorite in country music and still admits today that it's the fans who'll love you the most as long as you love them back just as much.

"Country music basically offers that same thing to any artist out there," says Stuart. "A country fan is probably one of the greatest assets that we have in country music. We've got about 12,000 people in our fan club. Sometimes that really comes in handy," he nods with a smile. "I can feel that when it's time to go to an area to play a show. I just feel it all the way around. I've said this before, but country fans are not hard people to love. You just love them and they love you back. All it takes is a photograph here or there, an autograph here or there and a few minutes with them here or there and you are set. Man, that's a great relationship!"

Since he first launched his musical career, it's been relatively easy for him to keep a progressive fan base. Much of this is due to the fact that he's always kept the roots of early country music alive and, at the same time, keeps today's sound alive as well.

Today, it's not unusual for Stuart to lend his time and talent to such projects as "Rhythm, Country & Blues" and "It's Now Or Never--The Tribute To Elvis." In 1994, he also performed on Asleep At The Wheel's "Tribute To The Music Of Bob Wills," "Mama's Hungry Eyes: The Merle Haggard Tribute" and "Red, Hot + Country" AIDS benefit album.

The opportunity to work with so many other entertainers and play such a broad spectrum of music is no doubt one of the most rewarding aspects of his career. "It's all about networking to me," he admits. It thrills me to death that I now can hang out with Keith Richards one day and Bill Monroe the next. It thrills me to death that Travis and I can do something or me and John Anderson can do something. Then I can turn around and do something with Steve Earle. It thrills me that when Sheryl Crow comes to town, I can go hang out with her and play music and turn around and go play with Earl Scruggs.

"I know what I can do now and I think I know what people like out there. Boy, it would be really boring to me if I was just set on one speed." The many speeds of Marty Stuart can perhaps best be found on his new "Marty Party Hit Pack" album. Although his four previous discs clearly provide proof of an authentic artist who's planted and cultivated a musical style of his very own, this new package brings it all together and offers it throughout one disc. Five of the 12 cuts have never been available on a previous album. Two are newly recorded and several numbers like Hillbilly Rock, Western Girls, Tempted and Little Things will ring a familiar bell.

"It was time," Stuart says of the "Marty Party Hit Pack," which stems from the title of his current "Marty Party" tour and television shows. "We were just touring so much and I wasn't really getting the right kind of time to sit down and write a great record of great new songs. They (MCA Records) wanted to call it the "Greatest Hits" record, but I really don't think these are my greatest hits. I'll always be proudest of these songs, though, because they are the ones that got me going.

What keeps the Mississippi native going is what's made him such a successful and sustaining artist for so many years--his great respect for country music heritage and a strong faith in its future. "It's important to have two worlds to work in," he explains. "It's great to have a dirt road to work on and an interstate to work on. You could spend your whole time chasing a trend, chasing the latest dance craze or the latest fashion craze in country music, but I prefer to keep one foot on a classic while we're innovating into the 21st century. So it's a fun game for me and I love it."

By Kimmy Wix

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