Country To The Core

Marty Stuart sings music of the common people

This appeared in Best Bets (Reno/Tahoe) - May 13, 1999


* Marty Stuart: With A Little Help From My Friends - 1978
* Busy Bee Cafe - 1982
* Marty Stuart - 1986
* Hillbilly Rock - 1989
* Tempted - 1991
* Let There Be Country - 1992
* This One's Gonna Hurt You - 1992
* Love & Luck - 1994
* The Marty Party Hit Pack - 1995
* Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best - 1996
* The Pilgrim - 1999


Fan Sherry Mattioli of Nashville, Tenn, has put together an impressive website on Stuart. It has more than 20 sections of everything Marty, from news to a chatroom -- even a "fun and games" section that has anagrams of his song titles and cryptograms of quotes. Another section has "Marty moments," where fans recount their meetings with the singer. The "Welcome" page has an animation of the singer surfing on a surfboard.


* Marty Stuart has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and has won three

* He is serving this third term as president of the Country Music Foundation

* His home state of Mississippi recently awarded Stuart with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

* He has written songs recorded by: Clint Black
Wynonna Judd
Del McCoury
Linda Ronstadt
George Strait

* Stuart has recorded with:
John Anderson
Steve Earle
George Jones
The Jordanaires
B.B. King
Willie Nelson
Ralph Stanley
Hank Thompson
Travis Tritt
The Staple Singers

Marty Stuart calls country music "the language of America." The guy who pops up on The Nashville Network in music videos, even on BBC radio, says, "It's common people music. You know it's accessible. It's true-life blues. It's the kind of music you can play anywhere. Even the most cynical music person can find something genuine in it."

In a telephone conversation from Nashville before his appearance at John Ascuaga's Nugget, Stuart said he's looking forward to his return to the Sparks showroom. "I miss Bertha," he said with a chuckle. "She's part of show-business history. What could top performing with an elephant?"

Stuart seems to have a party every time he performs. "If I can't have fun, why should I show up?" The party spirit is such a part of his mind-set, he called his 1995 album "The Marty Party Hit Pack."

Stuart's youthful appearance belies the fact he's spent 25 years making music -- rockabilly, garage-rock, bluegrass and honky-tonk. He sings and plays guitar and mandolin. He's been nominated for more Grammy Awards than he has strings on his guitar. Since 1978, he's recorded 11 albums, four of them certified gold with more than 500,000 units sold. He's amassed a string of hits and he's been awarded three Grammys.

At age 13, Stuart got his big break when he waited outside the late bluegrass guitarist Lester Flatt's bus for an autograph. Roland White, one of Flatt's band members, talked with him and encouraged him to pursue his interest in music. One year later, Stuart became a member of Flatt's band.

"I came from an incredible family," Stuart said. "My mom played the piano and my dad and I listened to music together. My grandfather was a fiddler. But still, how many kids hit the road playing with professionals at 13?

"I left home with my family's blessing," he said. "My mom trusted me to do it. She trusted me to represent the family with dignity. Sometimes I didn't, but usually I did."

Since then, Stuart has played with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Neil Young. In 1992, he achieved a lifelong ambition: He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry 20 years after his first appearance on the Opry stage at 13.

After recording on the Sugar Hill and Columbia labels, Stuart moved to MCA Records in 1989, where he firmly established himself as a solo artist.

From 1994 to 1996, Stuart played host to an impressive variety of performers on his popular "Marty Party" series of specials on TNN. The spirited series inspired a Marvel Comics special edition comic book, "The Marty Party in Space." The BBC tapped him for four "Country Club" radio shows where he used his vast knowledge of country music's history.

In 1997, Discover Channel Online featured a 10-day cross-country tour with Stuart ,documenting his day-to-day activities. And in 1998, he became the third person in the 150-year history of C. F. Martin & Company to have a Fender signature guitar issued.

Dedicated to preserving country music history, Stuart has assembled what many call the largest collection of country music memorabilia in the world. He often loans part of his collection for exhibits at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A few of his prized possessions are original manuscripts for Hank Williams' "I Saw The Light" and "Your Cheatin' Heart," a dress made for Patsy Cline by her mother, and a Johnny Cash guitar.

"I started collecting with my first paycheck," Stuart said. "Now I've got warehouses full. I like to exhibit these things that have inspired me. They should be seen......maybe they'll inspire someone else."

Stuart also serves as the president of the Country Music Foundation because he wants to help promote the foundation's role in ensuring that future generations have a Hall of Fame to visit. He's also established himself as an ambassador for Nashville, country music's capital.

"Marty Stuart embodies the spirit and character of Nashville," says Mayor Phil Bredesen. "He takes us with him everywhere he goes." In fact, several years ago, Nashville presented its first Mayor's Metronome Award in 12 years to Stuart.

Stuart has been married to country music singer Connie Smith for two years. "But," he said, "I knew from the moment I met her in 1970 I was going to marry her."

Stuart has a simple philosophy: "I try to keep the right perspective," he said. "I keep my feet on the ground and remember what is important. Johnny Cash told me to keep my eye on the big picture, never sweat the small stuff. One of my favorite things to do is sit on the back porch, watch a new day begin and be part of it."

And his goal for the future, he said, is "to deliver a real piece of pure country music into the 21st century.

By Gaye Delaplane

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