Marty Stuart Performs Free On Thursday

This appeared in the Jackson Free Press - October 24, 2012

Marty Stuart remembers his first dreams of stardom: “I wanted a gold tooth and to give the weather like Woodie Assaf did on (WLBT) Channel 3 in Jackson.”

That was before music took hold of him around age 6.

“My sister, Jennifer, had a normal childhood, and I had this musical life invading me like a big fog,” says Stuart, 54, the country music star from Philadelphia who became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1992.

“To me, a guitar was as much a part of the house as a stove or a refrigerator. I couldn’t imagine life without one being within reach.”

That life, along with his family’s, is documented in Choctaw Gardens, a 103-page book of photos taken by his 79-year-old mother, Hilda. She will sign copies at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. Marty and his wife, country star Connie Smith, will perform to open the event, sponsored by Lemuria Books. Admission is free.

“Mama’s photographs were something I studied when I was a boy,” says Stuart, also an accomplished photographer. “I might go a year before pulling them out again, but when I did, it was like reading the Bible … they were so moving.”

Photos of family reunions, relatives being baptized in ponds, Marty and Jennifer hunting Easter eggs, Christmas mornings, watermelon cuttings, jam sessions in the living room, and Marty performing — from small festivals to the Opry stage.

“She basically photographed everyday happenings in our lives,” says Jennifer, 52.

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