Spirits Of Marty Stuart And Connie Smith Finally Unite

This appeared in Country Weekly - August 12, 1997

Twenty-six years after they met on one Indian reservation in Mississippi, country singers Marty Stuart and Connie Smith married at another in South Dakota. The two Grand Ole Opry stars wed in a quiet ceremony July 8. "She's an angel," says Marty. "She is a spiritual person who gives my heart great hope and my life guidance."

They had been friends for years--but Marty, 38, remembers clearly the day he first laid eyes on Connie, 55. He was a pre-teen mandolin player growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Connie was a young star with hits such as "Once A Day," "Ain't Had No Lovin' " and "The Hurtin's All Over."

"I met Connie when I was 12 years old," he recalls. "She came to the Indian reservation in my hometown to work at a fair. She hasn't changed a bit. She looked great then and she looks great now." At first, Marty jokes about his reasons for choosing to get married on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. "I didn't have to do a blood test there," he says, laughing. "I pass out whenever I give blood."

But there are more serious reasons behind the easy laughter. The reservation is one of Marty's favorite places. "It's where Wounded Knee happened," says Marty, who is part Choctaw Indian. "It's a strong spiritual center. You know, it gets kind of crazy being in the country music business and, every now and then, you need to go back and plant your feet on the ground." He stamps his boot heels into the floor to drive home his point.

"You need to remember who made you and why you're here, and that's a great place to do it. I've done the Sweat Ceremony with them. I love that land, and those people are my spiritual brothers and sisters." It was also a place that offered this high-profile couple the kind of quiet that's hard to come by.

"It was a very private ceremony," says Marty, a two-time Grammy Award-winner. "Connie and I wanted it that way. We wanted to hide from the press for a couple of days and enjoy some peace and quiet. We just did it real fast and then we were back in Nashville."

Connie recalls the ceremony in glowing terms. "I can't imagine any woman with a man being more precious to her during the ceremony," she says. "It's an honor to be his wife. Now I've just got to pray hard so I can live up to it."

Their courtship took more than three years. "It's just something we've grown into and it's something we took slow," Connie says. "I wouldn't take anything for every day we've had up to this point and certainly wouldn't take anything for the days to come. God's good!"

Though united in life, they'll keep separate careers, Marty says. "Connie has 50-something albums to her credit. She's a legend in country music. So I don't see that she needs me onstage with her. If we happen to bump into each other, then that's fine. But she has her touring schedule, I have a totally different schedule--and our time in the middle is our time together."

Connie, too is focusing on being a duet offstage. "I think Marty and I match so well," she says. "I love him with all my heart."

By Michael A. Capozzoli, Jr. and Marianne Horner

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