Hilda Stuart To Sign Choctaw Gardens At Depot

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - November 7, 2012

Hilda Stuart, mother of country music star Marty Stuart, will sign her book Choctaw Gardens (Nautilus Publishing; $38), Tuesday at the depot in Philadelphia beginning at 6 p.m.

Hilda Stuart's photographs capture life's seemingly arbitrary moments in a gripping and intimate way, giving viewers insight into southern life from the late 1940s to modern day.

The images in Choctaw Gardens not only trace the lives of Stuart and her family, they also highlight the technological advancements in photography in the 20th century through an abrupt shift from black and white to color photographs.

Distinguished scholar and folklorist Tom Rankin wrote in the foreword of Choctaw Gardens: "Hilda Stuart photographed those things that were part of the ordinary patterns of life - social gatherings, local landscapes, family life, and the music scene that was building around her talented son, Marty."

Rankin collaborated with Marty Stuart in archiving and compiling the 79-year-old Hilda Stuart's immense, stunning collection of photographs.

"My mother's body of work is essentially our family's treasure chest," said Marty Stuart who will attend the booksigning along with his wife, Connie Smith.

"I totally trusted Tom Rankin in representing and presenting our story. He is truly the champion of this project."

Hilda Stuart began compiling her photographic work at the age of 16.

Some of those images, which are featured in Choctaw Gardens, were curated by Rankin and exhibited publicly for the first time in March 2011 at Duke University at the Center for Documentary Studies, which Rankin serves as Director.

It is not just Hilda's talent that makes Choctaw Gardens an incomparable collection of photographs. The book provides a never-before-seen look at the country music industry of the mid to late 20th century through her son Marty Stuart's successful music career.

Hilda's photographs provide fans with a comprehensive look at Marty's life, from photos of the virtuoso holding his first guitar to those of Stuart performing with country music legends at the Grand Ole Opry.

Hilda expertly selected her photographs of Marty to emphasize his rise to stardom.

One childhood image shows Marty holding a Johnny Cash album. Another shows him and his sister Jennifer meeting his current wife Connie Smith for the first time in 1970.

In an image taken 26 years later, we see Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, and Johnny Cash casually chatting backstage before a show.

Marty Stuart tours with mother Hilda

In honor of the launch of his mother's book of photography, Choctaw Gardens, Marty Stuart and family are hitting the circuit with matriarch photographer, Hilda Stuart.

"My momma has always felt most comfortable in the background and supported all of our family's endeavors," Marty Stuart said.

"This now is her time. Connie and I will play a couple of songs before the book event. All of us are honored to be able to support her wonderful project."

The entire family is getting in on the act. John Stuart (Marty's father) who is featured on the front cover of the book, will attend each of four signings throughout the state.

Marty's sister, Jennifer (also featured in the book), will be on hand to sign copies.

And Marty's wife, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Connie Smith, will be along for the ride.

"It's a family affair," Marty said. "We'll all be at each event. We'll all be signing the book."

The Stuart clan plans to make four stops in Mississippi including the one in Philadelphia.

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