Musical Pioneer Is Country's Ambassador

This appeared in the Norfolk, VA paper - June 9, 1994

The International Ambassador of Tourism for the city of Nashville urges you to "Shake Your Hips." Monday morning, Ambassador Marty Stuart cut the ribbon for the re-opening of the near-sacred and newly furbished Ryman Auditorium, longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry.

How did the musician become Ambassador? "I've been around for a while," Stuart said, "I know the pioneers of country music and the future stars."

The Mississippi-born musician has been around since the tender age of 13 when he jumped class--permanently--to perform with Lester Flatt. Stuart performs at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base Friday. As usual, it should be a high-energy show.

"Sure I'm still energetic," he said during a phone interview from Nashville. "The world doesn't need another bland act." Some of the energy will come from the aforementioned "Shake Your Hips," from Stuart's new album Love and Luck.

The MCA release, featuring bluegrass, country and gospel, is filled with such Stuart originals as "Kiss Me, I'm Gone," the first single from an album expected to yield four or five singles. "As much as they cost to produce, coming up with that many singles makes a lot of sense," he said.

We pose a standard question: "How does this album differ from the last one?" Not-so-standard answer: "Hell--lotta new songs. I was raised around country music and I build on that." Mostly, he was raised around bluegrass but, for the most part, that does not feed the flock.

"The difference between bluegrass and country is about a quarter of a million dollars a year," Stuart acknowledged, referring to bluegrass as "a country" cousin--but not as acceptable as country. It's not for everybody."

It is for Stuart and it works well. The flavor of bluegrass abounds in his albums and appearances. The grass is thick on three items from the new release, "I Ain't Giving Up On Love," "Oh, What A Silent Night" and the lone instrumental, "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon."

Marty Stuart is visiting Fan Fair this week, the startling event that draws thousands of country fans to Nashville from all over the globe. "I have about 7,500 members in my fan club," he said.

Stuart is on a first-name basis with just about every country entertainer in the business and has taken aim at most of them--with his camera.

By Frank Roberts

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