25 Years Ago: Marty Stuart Fulfills Vow to Marry Connie Smith
There are many love stories throughout the history of country music. There are also an ample amount of divorces. It’s all fed into the narrative of country music itself and unfolded like a country song: Johnny and June, George and Tammy, Waylon and Jessi just to name a few. But perhaps no love story is more improbable, more magical, and more poetic and prophetic than the love affair that transpired between Country Music Hall of Famers Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.
It all started when Marty Stuart was just 11-years-old, in the summer of 1970, when Connie Smith—17 years Marty Stuart’s senior—was already an established star, and had landed over a dozen Top 10 hits. Connie Smith happened to be Marty Stuart’s mother’s favorite singer, right behind Marty Robbins, who she named her young son after. Stuart’s mother had a copy of Connie Smith’s 1966 album Miss Smith Goes to Nashville, with a portrait of Connie Smith on the front.
“I sat it up on our stereo in the living room and walk by it and just look at it and think, ‘She’s really pretty. I think Connie Smith is beautiful,'” Marty Stuart recalls about the album. “There was a lot of people that had crushes on Connie Smith. Still do. But her music, her songs, her singing was so powerful as well. It went beyond her beauty. She had that power in her voice to reach out and touch your heart.”
So before Marty Stuart had even seen Connie Smith, he’d already developed a crush, and a magical connection to her to the point when she was booked to perform at the annual Choctaw Fair in Stuart’s hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi in the summer of 1970, Marty was counting down the days. He asked his mother to buy him a yellow shirt for the event. Why a yellow shirt? Because Marty Stuart wanted Connie Smith to notice him in the crowd that would assemble on the Choctaw High School football field for the performance. Stuart’s mom obliged.
On that Saturday, Marty’s mother took him and Marty’s sister Jennifer to see Connie, and according to Marty, it was love at first sight. After the show, Marty Stuart got his picture taken with Connie, and also got her autograph. Afterwards, right as Connie was getting ready to leave, Marty asked his mother if he could borrow her camera. An avid photographer later in life, Marty rushed over to a car where Connie was seated, and asked if he could take her picture.
“I must have put it right on her nose, because it was really close up. The first picture I remember taking in my life, and it was of Connie,” Stuart says. As for Connie, it was just an interaction with some goofy kid who was a fan, and she didn’t particularly recall Marty. But on the way back home from the show, Marty Stuart swore to his mother that he was going to marry Connie Smith someday.
Quite miraculously, 27 years later, on July 8th, 1997—25 years ago today—Marty Stuart did marry Connie Smith. What makes it miraculous is not just that Marty Stuart’s prediction as an 11-year-old came true, but the twists and turns both Marty Stuart’s and Connie Smith’s life took before that prediction was fulfilled.
In 1961, Connie Smith married her first husband, Jerry Smith. This is where her “Smith” name comes from. Connie’s maiden name was Meador. The couple had a son in 1963, but they divorced in the mid 60s, and Connie married her touring guitarist, Jack Watkins, and had her second son, but the couple also separated about a year after marrying. It was after this marriage that Connie could officially go as “Miss Smith” on the album cover that Marty Stuart initially became so enamored with. Connie was a free woman when Marty first saw her in Philadelphia, Mississippi in the summer of 1970, though not for long. She shortly married a telephone repairman, and the couple had three daughters. This third marriage of Connie Smith lasted into the 90s, but eventually ended as well, with Connie swearing she would never marry again.
Meanwhile, Marty Stuart wasn’t exactly waiting around for Connie. A year after meeting Connie, he was already getting involved in country music himself, playing guitar and mandolin by the age of 12, and performing with the Gospel band The Sullivans. After meeting Roland White, Marty was hired to play in the backing band of Lester Flatt by 1972, who he played with until 1978 when Flatt retired. He later joined Johnny Cash’s band in 1980, and by 1983, he was married to Cash’s daughter and fellow performer Cindy Cash. The couple divorced in 1988.
So finally in the mid 90s, both Connie Smith and Marty Stuart were free agents, and at the same time, and when Marty was of marrying age. They met at a music industry event in 1994, where Marty presented himself as a producer and co-writer for Connie. As they wrote songs together, they started to fall in love. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith were married on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in a traditional Lakota ceremony presided over by a holy man named Marvin Helper on July 8th, 1997 .
“Marrying Connie is, without question, the greatest event of my life,” Marty Stuart recalls in his 2019 picture book The Pilgrim: a Wall-To-Wall Odyssey. “Two hours beyond sunset, after our marriage vows had been spoken, Connie and I went up on a hill to dance with the wind. Out in the distance, a lightning storm flashed in all directions, making not a sound. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. God performed a light show for us that evening that was beyond words.”
It’s all quite improbable, and beautiful: Marty’s prediction being fulfilled despite the 17 year age difference, and the twists and turns the two took to eventually find each other. Now for 25 years, the love between Connie Smith and Marty Stuart has been a constant in country music, as has their love for country music itself, which has been like a beacon in tumultuous times, and has put both of them in the Country Music Hall of Fame, together, and forevermore.
The story of Marty Stuart and Connie Smith is country music incarnate, and it all started with an implausible prediction that was ultimately fulfilled.
David: The Duke of Everything
July 8, 2022 @ 8:26 am
A wonderful thing. Funny how life works sometimes.
July 9, 2022 @ 6:34 am
I was another 11 year old boy with a crush on Connie Smith
July 9, 2022 @ 5:19 pm
I need Plus 30 glasses
July 12, 2022 @ 1:21 pm
My husband was “”in love”” with Connie.And when she came to Jacksonville Florida for a concert l managed for us to meet her backstage and we got pictures with her. Fortunately l talked him into staying with me. Connie was always his favorite.
July 8, 2022 @ 8:53 am
I think they are both cool.
Together and separately
July 8, 2022 @ 8:58 am
July 8, 2022 @ 8:59 am
Marty is as genuine as they come and i wish him and Connie health & happiness and another 25 years of storybook romance. a really well written and researched article Trigger, thank you.
July 8, 2022 @ 9:17 am
They are both pure class. Thanks for the article.
July 8, 2022 @ 9:58 am
Beautiful story! Marty Stuart is coolest person in country music. Connie is a great singer. Probably the most talented couple in country music?
July 8, 2022 @ 10:08 am
“I went up on a hill to dance with the wind” Translation: They made love like sea otters.
July 8, 2022 @ 9:39 pm
Ok, going to look up just how amorous sea otters are …
July 10, 2022 @ 2:57 pm
I love his cockatoo look.
July 10, 2022 @ 3:22 pm
Well, yes, there is that …
Just had an image of Marty fanning out & displaying all of his feathers at once, ala peacock.
Turning this way & that. So Connie could get a really good look.
: D You just Have to love the male species.
This has nothing to do with the article, but one night in Miami, parked the car in the drive, & while walking to the house, glanced right.
There on the roof, were 5 brilliant peacocks. Feathers down. Sucked in a breath. Had never seen anything like it.
It was one of those amazing tropical nights, & i was like, OK, something is up …
July 8, 2022 @ 9:45 pm
Uh-oh, looks like sea otters are just as amorous as manatee and dolphin.
And dolphin can get pretty amorous.
Sir Adam the Great
July 8, 2022 @ 10:09 am
Tell me you’re a country music fan without telling me you’re a country music fan.
Seriously, theirs is a great love story.
July 8, 2022 @ 10:33 am
I can’t get into the “love story” aspect of Marty and Connie. Makes me uncomfortable. Too much “Harold and Maude.” (Google that, if necessary.) If someone wants to say that’s sexist, fine. I won’t defend myself.
But Marty’s got to be the best thing that happened to Connie, careerwise, in the last few decades. I barely knew that she was even alive, but he got her to making music again and produced her.
July 8, 2022 @ 2:53 pm
“But Marty’s got to be the best thing that happened to Connie, careerwise, in the last few decades. I barely knew that she was even alive, but he got her to making music again and produced her.”
And i’d bet that if you asked Marty, he would say that Connie is the best thing that ever happened to him.
July 9, 2022 @ 10:28 pm
And if it had not been for Johns daughter Cindy Mr. Stewart would most likely still be singing in a bar!
July 10, 2022 @ 7:28 am
Laura, please elaborate. In a nice way.
Have no idea who John or Cindy are.
Doubt that Marty would still be singing in a bar, if not for the two you mentioned.
He has talent, & is driven.
July 10, 2022 @ 8:26 am
I’ll save Laura the time. Marty Stuart was married to Johnny Cash’s daughter Cindy from ‘83 to ‘88.
July 10, 2022 @ 8:42 am
Thank you, Jack.
July 10, 2022 @ 8:55 am
You‘re welcome, Di. And I agree with you.
July 10, 2022 @ 8:42 am
…except he’d played in Lester Flatt’s band for six years at that point, had also played with Doc Watson and Vassar Clements, signed a record deal with Sugar Hill, and released a couple of solo albums before Cindy ever came into the picture.
And let’s not act like Marty Stuart went on to become a superstar. His commercial career lasted about 2 1/2 years, and his biggest hit (“Tempted”) stalled at #5. Many of the places Marty Stuart plays these days do classify as bars. But the reason he’s in the Country Music Hall of Fame is because nobody has done more to preserve the roots of country music in the last few decades. Was he a shitty husband to Cindy Cash? He probably was. Not many ex wives have favorable things to say about their ex husbands.
July 10, 2022 @ 11:43 am
Marty did have a couple of decent-size hit duets with Travis Tritt–“The Whiskey…” and “This One’s Gonna Hurt You.”
A bit ironic that Travis was the big star and was no doubt the artist that was responsible for getting radio to put those records in high rotation, but Marty’s now in the H-o-F and who knows when/if Tritt’s time will come.
July 10, 2022 @ 12:18 pm
Yes, if someone deserves credit for making Marty Stuart’s career, it’s Travis Tritt for dragging Marty’s no hit-having ass out on the No Hats tour and introducing him to actual audiences.
July 10, 2022 @ 2:13 pm
Kinda off topic but since you mentioned CMHOF credentials…I’d love for, somehow, someone like Melba Montgomery to get in the hall. She had a number one hit, she’s largely responsible for the greatest duet in country music history, and I love her voice.
July 8, 2022 @ 8:14 pm
“I can’t get into the “love story” aspect of Marty and Connie. Makes me uncomfortable.”
Sucks to be you, I guess. I’m sure Marty and Connie will be rethinking their 25 year union now that you’ve spoken up. The problem is all yours. 😉
July 9, 2022 @ 10:26 pm
I know the real story as well and no one wants the truth!
July 10, 2022 @ 2:16 pm
Um is your name really Laura or are you pretending to be John Carter Cash’s ex wife?
July 27, 2022 @ 2:10 pm
but male stars routinely have female partners young enough to be their daughters and most people don’t care yet this makes you “uncomfortable” because the shoe is on the other foot. Double standard. They are either all creepy or none are creepy.
January 10, 2023 @ 5:01 pm
You are wrong on your comment. She was a star when he was 11 years old.
July 8, 2022 @ 2:33 pm
Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, as long as they are happy. Thanks Trigger.
July 8, 2022 @ 2:36 pm
This is a great story. When I worked at TNN, I was assigned to a few shows that Marty was on. Easy going, no pretensions. He’d talk to a crew member just as much as he’d talk to anyone else. He loved talking about the history of country music back then.
July 8, 2022 @ 4:14 pm
True Love Stories still exist!
So Beautiful to Read this one.
Thanks for sharing when the WORLD needs more of this. We need more love like yours. Your one of the Lucky ones.
God Bless You Both !
Norman Gaines Jr.
July 8, 2022 @ 7:27 pm
I am lucky enough to know Marty and Miss Connie, and also lucky enough to be with a wife I knew I loved before I even met her formally. Their story is wonderful, but be it known they actually DO love each other – it’s not just a PR story.
July 8, 2022 @ 9:11 pm
Beautiful story. It reminds me of my father’s second wife (my stepmother) who was born in the 1870s (she was 20+ years older than my father).
July 8, 2022 @ 10:08 pm
I love them both and love seeing them together. They were meant to be together. It is a fairy tail.
July 8, 2022 @ 10:23 pm
We were lucky enough to see some of Marty’s country music history collection on display in Little Rock several years ago. Can’t wait until his museum in Mississippi is open in the next year or two.
We visited The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, and I mentioned to an employee that we’d seen some of Marty’s collection. She said, “Oh, yes, Marty and Connie have been here many times.” I got a kick out of how she said it like they were all best buddies. They probably are.
July 8, 2022 @ 10:55 pm
What a cool country history x that would be!
July 9, 2022 @ 7:04 am
An expanded version of this story will probably be a Country History X episode in the future.
P.S. – More episodes are coming. I am just waiting for some technical things to transpire, some of which were supposed to happen in October of 2021 and still have yet transpire, like using certain song audio clips across platforms etc. There will be more episodes soon.
July 9, 2022 @ 5:40 am
Great story. Both of them get better with age together.
Ray Guardiano, Jr.
July 9, 2022 @ 7:52 am
What a great and up lifting story to have read about Marty Stuart & Connie Smith ! I love all forms of music, but tend to be more of a rock n’ roller for sure, but there is country music also blasting in my car alot of times. Readers who would like to read about long lasting relationships in the music industry might like to read about the former lead singer of the English band The Hollies: Allan Clarke and his wife Jennifer. They have been married for 55 years and proposed to marry her on their very first date !! You will find out about them on the Internet. A new album will be released this summer by Allan Clarke and former Hollies bandmate Graham Nash, both 80 years old, and yes, they still have that magic together !! There are plenty still, musical love stories even in these turbulent times, take care everybody !!
July 27, 2022 @ 2:15 pm
Graham Nash is the quintessential poet and songwriter, I have nothing but respect for him, I’ll definitely buy this album.
July 9, 2022 @ 10:10 am
Congratulations to Marty and Connie. Addendum: Sadly, my childhood dream of marrying Rachel Welch never came to fruition, Oh, well.
July 27, 2022 @ 2:11 pm
there’s still time!
July 9, 2022 @ 12:17 pm
Best program ever on RFD was the Marty Stewart show. Lots of great music, country icons and of course Connie.
July 9, 2022 @ 1:31 pm
Saw Connie in concert in Franklin, NC last month. She said she had long covid, but to me having her voice not be at 100% just made it easier to appreciate her phrasing/artistry more. Also, other than singing Once A Day, of course, it was as though she just sang whatever she felt like as opposed to a canned set list, which I loved.
This was my second concert of hers, no easy feat given how often she does concerts (I’m 41 now, about half the age of most of the audience).
She did not sing “You and Your Sweet Love” but the song sorta expresses how I feel about her music. “I wish you only knew all the days I’ve made it through because of your sweet…” music, Connie.
July 9, 2022 @ 6:43 pm
Nice to see and hear. Marty’s voice is richer, now. His “Songs I Sing in the Dark” covers are great. Looking forward to his next release.
President and First Lady of Country Music, these days.
July 9, 2022 @ 8:03 pm
I always said I’d marry Dolly Parton and I haven’t given up yet.
July 9, 2022 @ 10:23 pm
Well I actually knew the Cash/Carter family, all amazing graceful folks with God given talents!
I must say this story makes my stomach turn as I actually know the truth and this is pure hogwash.
Robert's Country Blog
July 10, 2022 @ 7:19 am
Most of us reading this don’t know any of these people personally, so please enlighten us.
July 10, 2022 @ 12:15 pm
And the Cash/Carter relationship was on the up and up?? Watch the stones you throw at the glass house.
July 10, 2022 @ 6:11 am
This was beautiful. They look so good together. Marty has a wonderful personality and I remember Connie’s albums my parents had. Loved playing them. Happy Anniversary. 🌹 🎸
July 10, 2022 @ 11:58 am
Happy anniversary Marty n Connie .
July 10, 2022 @ 5:35 pm
I wish Connie Smith would take me to church like she did Kris Kristofferson, inspiring him to write Why Me Lord.
I’m a “born again” crazy person (sorry, bipolar); I’ve had genuine religious experiences related to my health troubles.
Raised Catholic, intellectually Catholic as an adult
…also I’m gay. Seriously, stranger, do you know of a good church?!
“The Street Where The Lonely Walk” (a Connie song), indeed
July 10, 2022 @ 6:00 pm
Will try to make this as brief as possible.
Jeep rollover while in the Army, near Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Thrown from Jeep, 8 skull fx’s, other broken bones. 3 hospitals that day. Camden, then Fort Campbell, then VA hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, where a neurosurgeon was standing by.
Flatlined at 4:03 a.m. taken to the morgue in the basement, GOD wasn’t ready for me to stay with Him, just yet.
Trust me when i tell you,
GOD loves you JB.
And, He wants you to be happy & know Him, and He wants you to be at Peace.
Sending you love,
July 10, 2022 @ 7:47 pm
Thanks Di for your love and story. Hope you are pain free now.
As for me, I almost consider it a miracle that the dumb, lost kid I was became a huge Connie Smith fan. It’s been paying off for almost 25 years (though credit is due too to Dolly’s The Seeker and Loretta’s a capella gospel songs in concert. And Willie taking everyone to church).
July 10, 2022 @ 8:18 pm
: D Awesome.
July 11, 2022 @ 6:42 am
Happy 25th anniversary,Mr. and Mrs. Stuart !!!! (On Toby Keith’s 61st birthday,too;get well soon and Happy Birthday,Toby !!!)
July 11, 2022 @ 7:33 am
I got to see Marty and company at a live recording of his RFD-TV show at the Ellis Theatre in Philadelphia some 10ish years ago. Afterward everybody hung out in the lobby, shook hands, signed autographs, and took pictures with folks. During that brief interaction I figured out Eddie Stubbs is *really* tall, Leroy Troy makes me look urbane and cosmopolitan, and Connie Smith, even at (then) 70 years old, is a strikingly pretty woman. I think I even said to Marty “dadgum hoss, no wonder you fell in love with her!”
July 11, 2022 @ 9:28 am
I am fairly certain that l have read the Connie’s religious beliefs have helped Marty during their marriage also.
Wishing them another 25 years together!
July 12, 2022 @ 11:27 am
I needed this feel-good report about Marty and Connie.
I’m still bummed out about Kelly Willis and Bruce Roberson splitting up. I saw them in concert last year and they looked really happy playing together on stage. Sorry for straying off topic – I just needed to say it.
Marty and Connie are very cool in every way.
July 22, 2022 @ 8:54 pm
I vividly remember when I first truly listened to the last 5 or so songs of the Connie Smith Essentials cd back in the late 1990s. What spirit. What conviction.
Just For What I Am, If It Ain’t Love…
When finally the second Bear Family box set of Connie’s RCA recordings came out around 2011, I heard and cherished dozens of songs (like “Too Much To Gain To Lose”) that more fully revealed where that spirit and conviction had, at least in part, come from: Connie had become a born again Christian.
Before 2011, much of my love of the music of Connie Smith had come from those 5 or so songs.
In 2010 I almost died by my own hand (120 pills exactly).
In the hospital, on a ventilator, I woke briefly and told those present that I had called 911 because I wanted to hear new music that was coming out. Truly, little did I know.