Country music has had some zealous love stories over the years, but it’s hard to imagine that one in particular started over a fifth-grade crush resulting from looking at a picture on an album cover…
But for Marty Stuart, this insane kickstart is exactly what got him hooked on his future wife. But his wife’s portrait aiding his intense childhood crush is only part of the very interesting backstory.
Marty was born in 1958, and by the 1960s, Connie Smith was already topping the charts in country music. Her vocal edge has been compared to that of Patsy Cline’s over the years, and her work earned her an induction as a Grand Ole Opry member and later the first female residency spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. All of this while Marty made his way through elementary school…
Their seventeen-year age gap is a big one, to say the least. And it made for a unique “getting to know you” process that left Marty crushing on Connie at a very young age, largely in part to his mother being a huge fan of Connie’s music and often playing it around his childhood home.
So when an opportunity to go see Connie in concert in his hometown presented itself, it’s obvious that both Marty and his mother jumped at the opportunity. Marty was 11 years old at the time, but after snagging an autograph and a photo from the “Once A Day” singer post-show, he boldly told his family on the car ride home that he would marry Connie someday.
In an interview with super producer Dave Cobb for Apple Music, Marty once shared his excitement over the star-studded singer:
“Connie was the act of 1970 and she was my mom’s favorite singer. And I went tearing through the house, ‘Connie Smith is coming to town!’
And at the end of the concert, my sister, Jennifer and I, we got our picture made with Connie, I got her autograph, I met some of the guys in the band and all the way home I told my mom I was going to marry Connie Smith some day.”
Quite a forward thinking and mature young man, it would seem.
The following years found Marty growing up and pursuing his own place in the bluegrass and country scene, and not doing too badly for himself either. Working with legends like Lester Flatt in his early years, and later becoming a member of Johnny Cash’s band, it would seem that the dominos fell just right in Marty’s career.
And by 1998, Marty had earned himself a phone call and an offer from Mrs. Connie Smith herself, wanting Marty to help produce her 1998 comeback album.
Marty agreed, and the long nights spent toiling over music production and song lyrics began to bring back feelings for his young crush, and according to Marty, it all happened rather quickly:
“It didn’t take long. We started writing songs and here comes these love songs and hearing Connie Smith sing them was like, ‘Oh my God.’ My heart started flipping out and I couldn’t believe it.”
But Marty found their age gap daunting and was unsure how Connie might feel about taking things further; not only was he younger, but Connie had proclaimed she would never marry again after three previous attempts had ended in divorce.
He pondered over the matter for some time, even listing the pros and cons before seeking out his biggest advocate for advice – his mother. Shockingly to nobody, the self-proclaimed Connie Smith fan encouraged Marty to take the leap of faith and ask Connie on a date.
I wrote down the pros and cons on a piece of paper. It just looked ridiculous on paper. But I finally did what I ultimately have done many times in my life, gone to my greatest consultant who’s my mama Hilda Stuart. And I said, ‘Mama, what do I do?'”
He shared that his mother said one thing that stuck with him and helped him to trust in the potential of he and Connie’s future:
“Five minutes of the right thing’s a whole lot better than 50 years of the wrong thing.”
And the rest is history… 25 years of it together.
Marty Serenades Connie at The Grand Ole Opry in 2021