EDITORIAL/Marty Stuart’s museum
Marty Stuart is spreading the word about his Congress of Country Music. A big fundraising gala in downtown Jackson Monday night will help make his dream become a reality, benefit our state and preserve country music history.
When explaining what is going on with his $30-million project in downtown Philadelphia, Mississippi, the Country Music Hall of Famer went back to the mission statement of his vision.
“… Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music is the spiritual home of country music — a cathedral where the spirits of country music legends, and the fires of today’s creative souls, converge,” he said.
A Philadelphia native, Stuart had the attention of Mississippi’s political and business elite as they gathered for “An Evening with Marty Stuart and the Congress of Country Music.” And he is going to need that kind of support and big money to make the Congress of Country Music a reality. The night was encouraging.
The turnout was good, thanks to the support of those like former Gov. Haley R. Barbour, who hosted the event.
Going in, Stuart said he not only wants to put Philadelphia at the forefront but country music as well. And he is.
“Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music. Blues, rock-n-roll and country music,” Stuart said. “Country music is a way of life for me. I live it, Love it.
Stuart is passionate about his dream and it is inspiring.
“In Philadelphia, we are building the Congress of Country Music, a center dedicated to the preservation of traditional country music. For years, I have been on this self-appointed mission to collect the lost, the forgotten, discarded pieces of this part of American history. I travel the land getting to know colorful country music fans and rescuing lost treasures.”
Stuart spent the first hour of the gala working the room, talking with his guests. Getting to know them. There was a dinner. Afterward, he put on a concert, joined by his wife, Connie Smith, and members of his band.
This kind of broad statewide support is what it is going to take to fully fund and operate the Congress of Country Music.
Barbour reflected on Mississippi’s musical influence and the importance of what Stuart is doing. A big name like Halley Barbour is appreciated and he is a master fundraiser. So, Stuart has found his ambassador.
“A lot of us think about where we lead in music,” Barbour said. “Rhythm and Blues, nobody questions that it started in the Mississippi Delta. Rock-n-roll is a little more diverse but there is no question who the king of rock-n-roll is.
“Country music – we think of the Tennessee mountains but it started in Meridian with Jimmie Rodgers. Guys like Marty Stuart have kept it alive and beyond that. They have spread the Mississippi Country Music emblem of over the country and really all over the world.”
A powerhouse like Barbour is needed. He has been an ambassador for Mississippi and now he is for Neshoba County and the Congress of Country Music.
“Construction is underway,” Barbour said. “They are spending $4 million on the first phase which is supposed to open this fall.”
While we can all applaud Marty’s vision and support the Congress of Country Music, what real growth can be expected, where is the study on long-term operations of a museum and music venue in Philadelphia? Now that we are spreading the word, — and the word is good — a study is the next step, especially before taxpayers are asked to become more committed.
We want the Congress of Country Music to be a long-term and viable thing.