Country music icon Marty Stuart is bringing his Fabulous Superlatives Band to Waco on Friday and the visit will spark reflections on the past and the future.

The past comes flooding back to his memory of his first visit to Waco over four decades ago, when he was a 14-year-old mandolin pro playing with Lester Flatt’s band. The bluegrass band came to Waco to record gospel music for Word Music, then a Waco-based Christian music and publishing leader.

The future comes – and in fact he has seen it on previous visits to Waco – realizing the business and economic impact of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia empire, the seeds of which were planted with the start from their television series “Fixer Upper”.

For Stuart, 63, working to bring about his Marty Stuart Country Music Congress in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the city changes brought about by Magnolia demonstrate what he argues his Congress can do for Philadelphia.

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“The power of television brought the whole world to Waco,” he said in a recent phone interview while on a layover in Virginia. “Look what happens when the right thing happens.”

Stuart’s dream of preserving country music’s legacy while seeking to perpetuate it by nurturing young talent puts walls and a roof over what the veteran musician has done in person throughout his career: praise and promote the history of country music while helping young musicians. ready to invest their talents in the future of the country.

Largely, this is how Stuart began, first as a precocious guitarist and mandolinist playing with the Sullivan family, then later with Lester Flatt’s band. Watching and absorbing how the seasoned musicians of Flatt’s band approached their craft and their careers proved an invaluable education, he said. “I learned from the master architects of the country,” he said.

Eventually, Stuart came out on his own, launching a solo career in the 1980s and 1990s and becoming a country radio staple with his 1991 duet with Travis Tritt, “The Whiskey Ain’t Working,” reaching No. country charts. Stuart’s infectious mix of country, rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and bluegrass earned him five Grammy Awards and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Over time, Stuart’s instrumental virtuosity and charismatic showmanship combined with a deep appreciation of country music’s heritage, some of which he learned first-hand. He became a music spokesperson and was a featured personality in Ken Burns’ acclaimed 2019 documentary series “Country Music.”

His vast collection of country memorabilia, around 20,000 items, will form the core of the Congress he and his wife Connie have worked to establish, with live music and education complementing the story contained in the center. “It’s not just about preserving country music, it’s about passing it on. We want it to be a place (for young musicians) to grow and be themselves, where they can nurture and cultivate their creative side.

Waco audiences can experience the live side of Stuart’s music and legacy in Friday’s Hippodrome show, which will blend Stuart’s hits, the instrumental flair of his superlatives (guitarist Kenny Vaughan, bassist Chris Scruggs and drummer Harry Stinson) and standards from the country’s rich history.

“I can’t wait to play (Waco). I know the city and how the city reacts,” he said.