Marty Stuart Had a Huge Impact in the Ken Burns Country Music Documentary: Here’s How

by Keeli Parkey

A key figure who played a role in the making of Ken Burns’ “Country Music” documentary was singer Marty Stuart.

In a recent interview with the Musicians Hall of Fame Backstage, the singer recounted the making of the popular documentary which takes a close look at the history of the genre and the people who played key roles throughout.

Stuart said he liked Burns’ work before they ever met.

“I love Ken Burns’ work, so I wrote him a fan letter,” the singer said during the interview. “I heard you might be doing (a film on country music). If you need me, the answer is yes. And, you know, I’m deep into the pool concerning some things about country music. Call me if you need me.”

Well, a few months go by and according to Marty Stuart, he is contacted by Dayton Duncan, a producer who works with Burns. That connection led to Duncan and Burns meeting with Stuart a few times, including a visit to the singer’s office and a visit to his home.

Once the singer connected with the filmmakers, he said he provided them with a list of individuals they should talk to about country music. These were people Stuart said the filmmakers “needed to talk to yesterday.” They agreed and got to work.

Stuart Calls Documentary ‘Labor of Love’

“It was about an eight-year job to get that done,” Stuart also said of the making of “Country Music.” “But, I knew I wanted to be a part of that and I knew that country music needed it, because everything Ken does is evergreen, becomes a part of the American curriculum. And, I knew that all of a sudden country music would be elevated … He brings a completely different audience to the game.”

And, while the documentary took many years of hard work, Marty Stuart thinks it was worth it.

“It was a labor of love,” he said. “… His work never goes away. It will live on and on and on. … It’s solid.”

You can watch Marty Stuart talk about the Ken Burns documentary below.

Marty Stuart Also Talks about Efforts to Save Ryman Auditorium

Also during his interview with the Musicians Hall of Fame Backstage, Marty Stuart talked about his role in the crusade to save the Ryman Auditorium. Stuart described it as “the mother church of country music.” He also discussed how the venue changed after the Opry changed locations.

“… it kind of became this empty thing that people would pay, you know, two bucks to go in and sit and have their picture made,” he said during the interview.

Stuart also said that the Ryman Auditorium was going to be torn down. However, he wasn’t ready to let the home of so many great country music moments go. So, he began having conversations about how the beloved music hall could be saved.

Luckily, many others agreed that the landmark should be preserved and they made it happen. Among that group of individuals was Emmylou Harris and Bud Wendell.