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Marty Stuart: Calling All Souls to Chapel

By Scott Ross and David Sisson
The 700 Club Scott Ross (reporting): When he was growing up, the folks in Philadelphia, Mississippi, knew Marty Stuart was a musical prodigy.

Scott: You picked up an instrument when you were how old?

Marty Stuart: I can’t remember when I didn’t have an instrument around.

Scott: At what point did you finally go out and start playing professionally?

Marty: Well, the first band was at nine, and I was on the road when I was 12 with the Sullivan Family Gospel Singers.

Scott (reporting): Marty Stuart has lived country music history. He’s become a country music historian, an archivist, and a collector of country music memorabilia. Today, Stuart owns the largest known private collection of its kind in the United States.

Scott Ross in Hank Williams' jacketMarty: Now you’re wearing Hank Williams’ coat.

Scott: Are you serious?

Marty: I’m serious.

Scott: Oh, my goodness. Look at that. Hank Williams. Oh, you’re right. It’s the real thing.

Marty: The town was kind of ashamed of that old rhinestone image, but I saw it as wearable art. It’s important to the culture: recordings, guitars that people played were being bought and going to collectors in Japan.

Scott (reporting): One of the first two records Marty Stuart bought as a youngster was by Lester Flatt. The other was by Johnny Cash. Marty later wound up touring with both men. He showed me one of Johnny Cash’s guitars.

Scott: From what period would this be?

Marty: From 1958.

Scott: Really! Sun Record period?

Marty: Uh, first Columbia record. Don’t Take Your Guns To Town; Pickin’ Time; Five Feet High and Rising; I Still Miss Someone… I love that. I asked him to authenticate it and he wrote, “That’s it.”

Scott: Man of few words. Look at that.

Scott (reporting): Young Marty Stuart owned at least one other record that had a significant impact on his life as an adult.

Scott: I remember a story that you told. You were with your mother somewhere, and you saw Connie Smith. You said, “I’m going to marry that woman.” It only took another 25, 26 years before it came true. But, it came true.

Marty: She came to our hometown. I was 12 years old. [She came] to the Choctaw Indian Fair. Miss Connie Smith was the performer that Saturday night, 1971. I told Momma I’m going to marry that girl. We had a record in our house called Miss Smith Goes To Nashville, and she was so pretty. I kept that record by my record player and ever now and then just walk by and look at it. She’s beautiful.

Scott (reporting): Marty Stuart has had a half-dozen successful solo albums which are characterized as “hillbilly rock.” He’s had six top 10 hits and received four Grammy awards.

Scott: What was the first big record for you?

Marty: Of my own? Well, it was a song called “Hillbilly Rock”. It gave me a reason to get me a bus and a band and cowboy clothes, and go live out some dreams that I always wanted to live out.

Scott: You had some highs and then took a nosedive.

Marty: I worked my way from the top to the bottom several times.

Scott: You came to a point where you encountered God or God encountered you.

Marty: Well, I was dedicated to God before I was born by Momma and Daddy, and I was raised in a very traditional Southern Baptist home. Like so many other people I was raised right, went crazy but I always knew God had His hand on me. That’s the most misery any human being can feel on this earth. That is to have made a commitment and to know the difference in right and wrong and to be out of the will of God. That’s an awful feeling. That’s Hell.

Scott: You were out of the will of God.

Marty: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Scott: Even with the fame and everything else?

Marty: Fame means nothing.

Scott: All these years that you had this background, you had your roots back in the church, in the Lord and so forth, and now, for the first time you’ve come out with a gospel album.

Marty: I don’t think I was personally ready, first of all, to stand up front and center to make a Gospel record.

Scott: You define Gospel music in the sense of telling the truth; it had to be truthful. You were in the middle of making this album and you get busted.

Marty: Yeah. Once again, it’s a point of surrender. One of the things I had not surrendered was taking a drink. I knew I couldn’t do it. I felt wrong about it. It wasn’t right for my life. It made a mess out of me. It clouded everything. It didn’t happen once; it happened twice -- DUI. [It was] the most embarrassing thing in the world. I was in the middle of creating Soul’s Chapel. Here you go, thrown in jail. You’ll never believe how low I felt, how worthless I felt.

Scott: But God didn’t condemn you, did He?

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous SuperlativesMarty: No. He felt the most wonderful. He sent the most wonderful point of conformation. Mavis Staples and Yvonne Staples of the wonderful Staples singers, and my family came and… The man that meant the most to me throughout all my years of traveling was Pop Staples. He was such a powerful man of God. Mavis and Yvonne didn’t know what had happened to me the day before. They came to the show. They were carrying a guitar, and it was Pop Staples’ guitar. They handed it to me. I thought they were just going to show it to me, and they gave it to me. It was like being handed an instrument of light, and it was God’s way of saying, “I still love you. It’s just a guitar, but this guitar has a job to do. It’s in your hands now. Do it.” I didn’t take it lightly.

The song “Somebody Save Me” was the one that we kicked the album off with. Just Pop Staples’ guitar and the voices.

I know that Soul’s Chapel are songs that are meaningful. They touch hearts. They touch lives. There is a spirit in them and when things are right they can move hearts and change and transform lives.

Watch Marty Stuart's testimony online.

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