Renaissance Man

This appeared in the Daily Mining Gazette - June 15, 2006

At the age of nine, Marty Stuart knew there was life beyond his “little bitty band in Massachusetts.”

“Becoming a country music singer was all I’ve ever wanted to do,” he recalled from his home in Tennessee during a phone interview Tuesday morning, “It’s all I ever remember wanting to do. So, I got there as fast as I could.”

June 22, country legend Marty Stuart, along with his band, The Fabulous Superlatives, will present an evening of down home southern entertainment for one show at 7:30 p.m. at the Calumet Theatre. The first event of the 2006 Summer Concert Series will feature bluegrass and gospel numbers to honky-tonk classics.

Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1958, Stuart is said by some to be country music’s Renaissance man. He emerged as an artist at the age of 13 when his love for playing the mandolin landed him a spot with musical influences Lester Flatt and his bluegrass band and later, before Stuart’s 20th birthday, a six-year stretch as guitarist with the late Johnny Cash. For a teen with a dream as big as his, Stuart said it was like “running away with the circus.”

“I loved it,” he recalled. “I learned life lessons as well as the musical ropes. They were solid people. Being around them at such an early age ... it was like a master class and I recognized it.”

Stuart is a man of many talents, gaining six top-10 hits among some of which include “Hillbilly Rock,” “Burn Me Down,” and “Tempted,” one platinum and five gold albums. He released 14 albums between 1978 and 2003.

Through a friendship with country star Travis Tritt, Stuart co-wrote and co-sang the Grammy Award winning hit “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’,” which landed the number two spot on the Billboard charts. Stuart received three additional Grammy Awards as well.

In addition to touring with Travis Tritt, Stuart is also recognized for recording alongside distinguished artists John Anderson, George Jones, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, B.B. King and Merle Haggard among others. Stuart is also a producer, composing film scores including “All the Pretty Horses,” which earned a Golden Globe nomination, served six terms as president of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s board of directors and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Aside from his musical career, Stuart finds the time for other passions as well. He is a photographer, writer, arts executive and a collector, acquiring over the years, country-related artifacts from legends Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and others.

“I’ve always, always treated it like a hobby,” Stuart said. “A pretty meaningful hobby.”

“I’m always keeping up with my life and with American culture as I move through it,” Stuart added, “and hopefully at the very end I will have something to show for it.”

Stuart’s latest albums released in 2005 reveal the depths of Southern culture, a subject Stuart has always been interested in. They include the gospel collection, Souls’ Chapel, a series of songs about the lives of Native Americans, Badlands, and the concert recording released this year, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives Live at the Ryman.

On his Web site,, Stuart is quoted as saying, “I’ve been in bands since I was nine years old. Having a band is a way of life to me. The Fabulous Superlatives are the band of a lifetime. The first time I played music with Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson, and Brian Glenn I knew this group was divinely ordered. The most meaningful music of my life this far has been made with this group.”

What Stuart said he’s enjoying the most at this point in his career, is the “creative freedom and uncompromised vision regardless of the cost at any level.”

“And just being true to my heart,” he added. “I’ve been on the road now for 30 years. It’s just a natural place for me to go.”

By Kelly Fosness

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