Marty Stuart’s wife, Connie Smith, has been an icon in the country music community since she first started releasing music in the 60s. Today, she is still considered by many to be one of the best vocalists in country history.
Let’s get to know more about her personal life and her successful career.
She Grew Up Surrounded by Music
Connie Smith, whose real name is Constance June Meador, was born on August 14, 1941, in Elkhart, Indiana. Her parents, Wilma and Hobart Meador, were originally from West Virginia, where Connie spent her early life and later in Dungannon, Ohio.
Her father, who was a farmworker, was an abusive alcoholic causing Connie to suffer a mental breakdown while she was in her teens. Her mother divorced her father when Connie was only seven and married Tom Clark, who later on became her most important musical influence.
Connie then grew up in a home surrounded by music and talented family members. Her stepfather, Tom Clark, played the mandolin. Her brother played guitar while another brother played the fiddle. Saturday nights are spent listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast.
And one accident turned into Connie’s guitar lessons. When the future singer was a teenager, Connie got into a lawnmower accident, which almost cut her leg off. While she was recovering in the hospital, she was given a guitar and quickly learned how to play different chords.
She Won a Talent Contest That Landed Her A Recording Contract
In the early 60s, Connie married and became a housewife in small-town Ohio, but she was occasionally singing on local TV shows and was performing in various local talent contests. In August 1963, Connie joined a talent contest at the Frontier Ranch country music park near Columbus, Ohio.
She belted out her winning piece, “I Thought of You” by Jean Shepard. She won five silver dollars from the contests, and stardom she never expected to come. That day at the park, country music singer Bill Anderson heard Connie performed, and he was impressed by her voice.
But it wasn’t in January 1964, when Connie ran into Bill Anderson again at a country music package concert. The country crooner invited Connie to perform with him on Ernest Tubb’s Midnite Jamboree program in Nashville, Tennessee.
After performing on the program, Connie went back to Nashville that May to record demos by Bill that he planned on pitching to other country singers. But producer Chet Atkins heard it and was impressed by Connie’s vocals. Chet Atkins offered Connie a recording contract, and she eventually signed with the label on June 24, 1964.
She Quickly Became a Hitmaker
In less than a year, Connie Smith transitioned into being a small-town Ohio housewife to country stardom. Her debut single, “Once a Day,” written especially for her by Anderson, was released as a single in September 1964 and hit the top of the country charts. It peaked No. 1 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles and reigned as No. 1 for eight weeks. For almost 50 years, the hit song held the record for the most weeks spent at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart by a female artist.
In March 1965, Connie’s self-titled debut album also peaked No. 1, spending seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and spent a whopping 30 weeks on the chart overall.
She Began To Incorporate More Gospel Into Her Act
In the early 70s, Connie turned her live show into a traveling gospel roadshow. She signed with Columbia, which allowed her to record gospel songs fully.
However, the material did not score on the charts as greatly as her previous songs. Her secular material was still more popular with the public than her religious ones. Between 1978 and 1992, unfortunately, there were no longer new Connie Smith albums, though she continued to perform with the Grand Ole Opry.
She Was Married Four Times
In 1961, before her stardom, Connie married Jerry Smith and had one child together named Darren Justin. In the mid-1960s, the couple called it quits, and Connie remarried to the guitarist in her touring band, Jack Watkins. Connie and Watkins had a son, Kerry Watkins, before splitting up almost a year after marrying.
Shortly afterward, Connie married Marshall Haynes, a marriage that would last for 24 years. Haynes frequently toured with Connie on her roadshow. They had three daughters: Jeanne, Julie, and Jodi Haynes.
After she divorced Haynes in the early 1990s, Connie said that she would never marry again. But things changed with she met Marty Stuart.
Her Unconventional Love Story With Marty Stuart
Connie Smith and Marty Stuart’s love story is one unconventional union that has rocked the entire country music community. Stuart is 17 years younger than Connie, and he was just 12 years old when he first met her.
“She was my mother’s favorite singer. We had a record of her at our house called ‘Miss Smith Goes to Nashville.’ It had a beautiful photograph of her on the cover.” Stuart recalled in an interview. “I thought she was the prettiest girl in the world, so I had my mama take me to buy me a yellow shirt, so Connie would notice me that night.”
“After the concert, me and my sister got our picture made with her, and I got her autograph. On the way home, I told my mama that I was going to marry her,” he added.
However, it wasn’t until decades later that they crossed paths again. And at that time, Stuart already had his own music career. “We met and started talking about music. Musically I was really impressed with what he knew and what he talked about. So when I saw him at the Opry after that, I asked him if he’d be interested in working with me,” Connie said.
Of course, Marty Stuart was quick to say yes, and “after that, we’ve probably written 40 or 50 songs.”
While working together, Stuart’s feelings started to overtake him. When he couldn’t take the feelings anymore, Stuart needed to ask some advice from his mother, who then told him to go for it. After the pep talk, Stuart met up with Connie at a grocery store. When he found her there, he walked up to her and kissed her, and that was when their love story began.
On July 8, 1997, the happy couple tied the knot at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, after dating three years. They have lived happily ever after since!
Indeed, true love can endure all things. The powerhouse couple has successfully defied the stereotypes of marriages, and they were able to keep their love burning at the same time, excel in their careers.