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Grammy Award-winning country music singer Marty Stuart got his start performing with Johnny Cash before launching a successful solo career.
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Musician, singer, songwriter. Born on September 30, 1958, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. A legendary country music performer, Marty Stuart received his first guitar not long after he learned to walk. He became such a strong musician that he turned professional at the age of 12, spending the summer touring with the Sullivan Family, a bluegrass-gospel group, as a mandolin player. This summer adventure proved to be a life-changing event. "I felt like I had found my life. I felt like I had run away with the circus. But when school started . . . I hated it. I didn't fit in any more," Stuart reflected later.
Before long, Stuart dropped out of school to play mandolin with Lester Flatt and his band The Nashville Grass. The 13-year-old musician spent years on the road, performing at bluegrass festivals and concerts. During his time with Flatt, Stuart met a diverse group of musical greats, including Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Chick Corea, the Eagles, Emilylou Harris, and Bob Dylan.
The year after Flatt's death in 1979, Stuart joined Johnny Cash's back-up band as a guitarist. He also worked on solo projects, releasing his second album, Busy Bee Cafe, in 1982. The bluegrass recording featured performances by Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash, and Doc Watson, and it earned strong reviews.
Around this time, Stuart married Cash's daughter Cindy, but he parted ways with his father-in-law in 1985 in order to focus on his own career. Exploring the sounds of rockabilly, he found some success with the 1986 album Marty Stuart and scored his first hit with the song "Arlene." Stuart also worked on his stage persona, choosing to wear fancy western-style suits on stage and to tease his hair. In his personal life, he began to make changes, too. He and his wife Cindy divorced in 1988.
Returning with 1989's Hillbilly Rock, Stuart reached the top 10 of the country music charts with the album's title track. He again won over country music fans with 1991's Tempted, which featured "Burn Me Down" and "Little Things." Partnering with Travis Tritt, Stuart won his first Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Collaboration for "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" in 1992. The pair toured together and scored another big hit with their "This One Is Going to Hurt (For a Long, Long Time)" that same year.
In 1993, Stuart won another Grammy Award—this time for Best Country Instrumental Performance. He joined forces with Chet Atkins, Vince Gill, and several other country stars for the song "Red Wing." His next solo album Love and Luck (1994) proved to be a commercial disappointment, but he remained a popular country star. Stuart hosted the first of many Marty Party television specials that year.
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The Nashville Sound developed in the late 1950s, when recording studios and artists replaced some of the traditional elements of honky-tonk music with more contemporary pop music sounds. Producer and musician Chet Atkins was one of the genre's inventors, and is credited with bringing country music to a much wider audience. With his smooth voice, Charley Pride is one of country music's few African-American stars—and the only one to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Women were also crucial to the popularity of the Nashville sound, with stars like Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynne bringing women's perpectives, as well as glamour, to the genre.
Not only did the Nashville Sound influence the sound of country music, but it also helped to establish Nashville, Tennessee, as the country music capital of the world. Thousands of aspiring artists now flock to the city each year, hoping they might be the next big, musical discovery.
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