Marty Stuart did not win the talent contest under the pavilion at the 1970 Neshoba County Fair. He was thwarted by a baton twirler with a dazzling smile. He did, however, go on to win five Grammy Awards, multiple gold and platinum albums, induction into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and most importantly, the heart and hand of Connie Smith.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has been quoted as saying, “If country music had a president, it would be Marty Stuart.” Stuart’s five-decade and counting career began with him playing at local events in the Philadelphia community. He has since championed, preserved, furthered, and taken the culture of country music around the world. Stuart’s associates in his musical escapades are known as the Fabulous Superlatives. Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson, Chris Scruggs, and the Superlative crew are what Stuart refers to as “a divinely ordered band and crew of a lifetime.” Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives have been called “the most lethal force in country music, a must-see group for the ages.”
It is only fitting that the touchstone figure of the Congress of Country Music and the historic Ellis Theater project, be the first to take the stage in the grand reopening festivities. The evening will undoubtedly be remembered as the first measure of a new era in Philadelphia, Mississippi, lore.
Connie Smith is one of the most respected singers in the history of country music. She is often referred to as “the Rolls-Royce of country singers.”
Born Constance June Meador, Smith grew up in West Virginia and Ohio in a family of 14 children. Her parents were migrant workers who were often faced with hard times. To escape, Connie listened obsessively to the radio, especially the Grand Ole Opry. As a child, she proclaimed, “One day, I’m going to sing on the Grand Ole Opry.” She has now been a member of the show for 57 years.
Connie came to Philadelphia for the first time in 1970 to support the efforts of her longtime RCA producer, Bob Ferguson, in helping the Choctaws to establish their telecommunications network. She has often come back to this community to lend her voice. We welcome this country queen back to town for the grand reopening of the historic Ellis Theater.