Grand Ole Opry star and multiple Grammy Award winner Marty Stuart has amassed one of the largest private collections of memorabilia documenting country-music history. The Library of Congress announced in mid-May that the world’s largest library has acquired hundreds of hours of historic country-music footage, recordings and other audio-visual materials from Stuart’s vast collection. The Marty Stuart Collection will complement the Library’s existing collections from such iconic performers as Pete Seeger, Les Paul, Max Roach, Gerry Mulligan, Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope.
The audio-visual collection features more than 100 hours of footage shot on the road, including at the Grand Ole Opry; complete television episodes of “The Johnny Cash Show,” “Flatt and Scruggs Grand Ole Opry” and the “Marty Stuart Show”; rare home movies of the Lester Flatt Band on tour; and music videos from throughout Stuart’s career, including the songs “Tempted,” “Little Things” and “Burn Me Down.” Stuart donated portions of the collection and the rest was acquired via purchase.
In celebration of the acquisition, Stuart performed at the Library’s Packard Campus Theater, located at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library plans to collaborate with Stuart to present a series of events highlighting traditional American music and its place in the nation’s audio-visual history. Featuring a combination of conversation and music, “The Library of Congress and Marty Stuart Present” event in May will showcase Harry Stinson, Kenny Vaughan and Chris Scruggs, the musicians who form Stuart’s popular band, The Fabulous Superlatives.
“For this celebration event, The Fabulous Superlatives will be profiled individually and collectively,” said Stuart. “Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Chris Scruggs are modern masters of their craft, each one a statesman. Their stories will fit well into the archives of the Library of Congress.”
Stinson added: “I can’t wait to get back to the ‘seed bank’ of American film and audio culture, the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus! I admire the passion and diligence of every soul working there to restore and preserve our artistic heritage.”
From his early days as a teen mandolinist, and later as Johnny Cash’s guitarist, to his popularity as a solo artist, Stuart has always been interested in the preservation of the country-music heritage. “After spending the better part of two days touring the Packard Campus facility in 2015, the historian and archivist part of me was energized beyond measure,” said Stuart. “I dearly love the Library. It stands as a timeless symbol of our nation’s creative powers and serves as a reminder that there is indeed a destination for works that are led forth by the guardian angels of inspiration and integrity.”
As a musician, singer and songwriter, Stuart brings an electric style to his country-music roots. Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1958, he learned to play the guitar and mandolin at an early age and began performing professionally at 12 while touring with The Sullivan Family, a bluegrass-gospel group. About a year later, he joined Lester Flatt and his band, The Nashville Grass. In 1980, following Flatt’s death, Stuart joined Johnny Cash’s band as a guitarist. After about five years touring with Cash, he pursued a successful solo career.
During his more than 40-year career, Stuart has added numerous honors and awards to his long list of accomplishments, including five Grammy Awards. In addition to producing a long-running television series—”The Marty Stuart Show”—Stuart has produced soundtracks for several films, including “All The Pretty Horses,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
For decades, he also has channeled his creative talent as a highly respected photographer. His photographs have been exhibited in museums and published in books. In addition to being an avid collector of country-music memorabilia, Stuart served as president of the Country Music Foundation, which manages the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Stuart audio-visual collection will be available to researchers in the Library’s Motion Picture and Television Reading Room in Washington, D.C. Processing of the collection continues, but much of it is currently available to researchers. The rest of Stuart’s large collection of country-music artifacts will be located at his birthplace at the Marty Stuart Center and Congress of Country Music Hall.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation). The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board (www.loc.gov/film), the National Recording Preservation Board (www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb) and the national registries for film and recorded sound.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
Jessica Bray is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.