Marty Stuart IS Country Music. Now He’s a Hall of Famer

Nobody does more to preserve the history and pay forward the legacy of country music than Marty Stuart, musician or otherwise. And now that boy from Philadelphia, Mississippi who gave himself completely to the music at the tender age of 12 is officially a Hall of Famer.

Along with announcing Hank Williams Jr. as the Veterans Era nominee for the 2020 Hall of Fame class, and songwriter Dean Dillon in the rotating class of non-performers in the songwriting category, Marty Stuart is the 2020 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era category.

“It is the ultimate honor in country music,” said Marty Stuart. “I’m so honored to be included in this class and I’m honored to be included alongside Hank Jr. and Dean Dillon. I love those people. To be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is beyond words. I’m usually not at a loss for words.”

If there was ever a performer in country music history who may have not racked up the monster sales and charting numbers that normally qualify you for induction into the Hall of Fame rotunda, but deserves induction for the preservation work they’ve done for the genre as a whole, it would be Marty Stuart.

Many of the artifacts that adorn the Country Music Hall of Fame come from Marty Stuart’s personal collection, which is one of the biggest in private ownership. In the 80’s and 90’s when country music experienced a big commercial boost from Hall of Famers like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson, entire wardrobes of vintage country music stage clothing, as well as reams of artifacts and boxes of mementos were ending up in thrift stores and dumpsters all around Music City. Marty Stuart personally took it upon himself to rescue many of these pieces of history and preserve them for the future.

Stuart’s collection has become so large, he’s commissioned the Congress of Country Music in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi to house and present all the artifacts, along with holding workshops, concerts, and symposiums. Stuart has also spent years photographing country legends and important places to further preserve the music’s legacy. The guitar Marty Stuart plays his Clarence White’s classic Fender Telecaster B-bender—one of the most important instruments in country music history.

But despite the lack of major mainstream country music success in his career, Marty Stuart’s contributions to the music itself are just as vast and impressive. A country music lifer, Marty Stuart began performing at the age of 12 with the Sullivan Family Gospel Singers, and then did stints as an understudy in the bands of Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash. In the early 90’s he achieved his greatest commercial acclaim, charting eight Top 20 hits, including “Hillbilly Rock” and “Tempted,” and toured regularly with Travis Tritt under their “No Hats” name.

In the early 2000’s when the hits stopped coming, Marty Stuart released his magnum opus, the conceptualized double album The Pilgrim to great critical acclaim. Later he formed the Fabulous Superlatives, which currently includes “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and, Chris Scruggs. Marty Stuart owns four Grammy Awards among other accolades, and his 2017 record Way Out West was highly acclaimed, including being nominated for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year. In 2019, he was named the Hall of Fame’s “Artist-In-Residence,” which has often preceded formal induction into the institution.

Marty Stuart was married briefly to Cindy Cash, one of the daughters of Hall of Famer Johnny Cash. Stuart is currently married to fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith. For Marty Stuart, country music is his life. When he was 11-years-old, Marty Stuart saw Connie Smith perform at the Choctaw Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Awe struck, he told his mother that Connie was the prettiest woman he’d ever seen, and that he would marry her someday. 27 years later, Marty Stuart did. Marty’s one request when he was told he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame was that Connie Smith gets to formally induct him when the upcoming Medallion Ceremony happens.

Beyond all the resume points, it’s easy to conclude that nobody embodies the spirit and history of country music more than Marty Stuart. Many of the artifacts and music that he contributed to or preserved already hangs on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Now, Marty Stuart finally gets to be in there himself, and deservedly so, and forever.

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