Among the multitude of Mississippi natives who have risen to the top of the arts and entertainment industry, Marty Stuart not only rose but persevered.
A celebration of the life and career of the Neshoba County native and Country Music Hall of Famer is set to take place with the Saturday, May 7, opening of ‘The World of Marty Stuart’ exhibit at both museums. from Mississippi to Jackson.
Of note, in conjunction with Stuart’s historic presentation is the first Mississippi Makers Fest, featuring a range of local food, music and arts.
“Marty represents what it means to be a creative, hardworking Mississippian, and that’s what this festival will celebrate. We have a phenomenal musical lineup and several incredible food and art vendors from across the state,” said Pamela Junior, director of the yet new Historic Museums, announcing the show and the Stuart Festival.
“The World of Marty Stuart” explores Stuart’s versatile life growing up in Mississippi and a career that began at age 14 touring with legendary bluegrass guitarist and banjo player Lester Flatt. Stuart has won five prestigious Grammy Awards. The exhibit includes hundreds of items like his first guitar, as well as memorabilia related to other iconic country music figures.
Original handwritten manuscripts of Hank Williams, guitars belonging to Merle Haggard and Pops Staples, costumes from former stage partners Porter Wagoner and Dolly Partin and artifacts from Johnny Cash’s career are among Stuart’s finds to be revealed in the exhibition. “The World of Marty Stuart” will continue through December.
Mississippi country music enthusiasts fully understand Stuart’s place among the top performers in the music industry. He has won some of his highest accolades, including joining the Country Music Shrine in 2020. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1992.
Those of us who are usually glued to his weekly Saturday night show on the RFD-TV Network also understand Stuart’s story. Now in reruns, each episode is a veritable country music gala with top-tier guest artists and a live audience, reminiscent of Wagoner’s old series.
The Stuart Show, launched in 2008, is partially funded by the Mississippi State Tourism Agency. He and show announcer Eddie Stubbs of Grand Ole Opry fame spend a good chunk of airtime each week praising his home state. The list of guest stars is always top-notch, but none tops the vote for Stuart’s wife, singing star Connie Smith, who dazzled country music crowds for decades.
Smith, a Grand Ole Opry member and Hall of Famer who, at 80, still regularly performs cross country, is best known for her number one hit “Once a Day,” which topped country songs. of Billboard for eight weeks, then a first for a female artist.
Stuart and Smith married in 1997 and both credit their faith in God with making the union work. Each weekly broadcast carries a gospel song with a likeness of Jesus in the background. The two stars first met when Stuart was 12 and saw Smith perform on the Choctaw Indian Reservation.
Stuart has not forgotten his roots. He helped create the Country Music Congress which will be housed in the newly renovated Ellis Theater in his hometown. He says it will rival the BB King Museum in Indianola, the MAXX in Meridian and the Grammy Museum in Cleveland when complete. “It’s Philadelphia stepping up and weighing in,” he told the Democratic newspaper Neshoba.
Like Wagoner, Stuart wears flashy suits and scarves from a major collection, nods to early stars who wore such attire, including Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, tying him irrevocably to the roots of his profession. He doesn’t let go.
Mac Gordon is originally from McComb. He’s a retired journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com.