Fans Get A Personal Tour Of Marty Stuart's Life

This appeared in the Sun Herald - November 15, 2012

Almost 250 eager country music fans turned out Wednesday evening at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center to watch Grammy-winning artist Marty Stuart perform in a tribute concert to his 79-year-old mother, Hilda Stuart.

Also joining him on stage was his wife of 15 years, singer Connie Smith, herself a recent inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In an effort to promote Hilda Stuart's newly released photography book Choctaw Gardens, the tribute concert has also been featured in three other Mississippi cities, including Stuart's hometown of Philadelphia.

After opening the show, Stuart asked the audience for requests and was met with a multitude of responses, including one gentleman's call for the song "Be Careful Who You Love," which was met with Stuart's witty response of, "You too, sir," leaving the entire room laughing.

Shortly after a rousing rendition of one of Stuart's most well-known songs, "Hillbilly Rock," he brought out Smith. The two reminisced over the story of how they met and fell in love, with Stuart sharing his memory of when he was 12 and told his mom how he was going to one day marry Smith, never expecting it would take 25 years to make that dream come true.

After Smith sang a few solos, she and Stuart sang a duet of the tune "Farmer's Blues," a song Stuart and Merle Haggard wrote together.

Throughout the concert, Stuart laughed and made jokes, putting the audience at ease.

When Smith suggested they try a new song, Stuart's response was, "Well, if we mess up, then we can just start again, since they didn't pay but $5 to come in."

After the concert, Hilda Stuart and her publisher Nick White came out to discuss the reason for the concert -- the book of photos, which are all shots she's been taking "ever since I could get my hands on my first camera," she said.

Hilda Stuart said all of the photographs in the book depict her life in pictures -- from her early days growing up in rural Mississippi to starting a family and watching it grow, to her son's humble beginnings and rise to fame.

"The world can finally share in what we have seen all along in the genius of her photography and share in her wisdom and her love," Marty Stuart said. "And I think that it is a wonderful thing for her to share that with the world."

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