Marty Stuart visits with students and teachers at Neshoba Central High School.
Marty Stuart visits with students and teachers at Neshoba Central High School.
Think about Marty Stuart and his Congress of Country Music initiative that he is bringing to Philadelphia and several things come to mind.

Of course, Stuart’s priceless and irreplaceable collection of country music memorabilia will be a main event attraction when it is displayed in the museum area. There will be plenty of country music forums and concerts with different headliners joining in.

Stuart also plans to involve interested students from the local schools of his hometown. He started making that known during a meeting with the student council at Neshoba Central High School last week. Stuart said this was a start and he will be involving other local schools as well.

“At the very heart of the Congress of Country Music initiative you'll find education and a hands-on approach to most every facet of the entertainment industry,” Stuart said in a press release. “The open forum-meeting I shared with the students and faculty at Neshoba Central made me realize that the educational goals of the Congress of Country Music (CCM) are not just a dream.  I met some of this state's brightest students:  gifted people who have vision and passion for various skills that range from singing to administration, fundraising, social media, production assistance, and the fine art of audio engineering.”

That will mean hands-on opportunities to work with country music professionals in all of those mentioned areas. Also, the Congress of Country Music hopes to work with the schools to develop grants for music education.

“The Congress's director, Carolyn Tate, has been working for the past few months with the school's librarian, Rachel Kiepe, to develop various grants for music education programs as well as discussing shared ideas and opportunities that are beyond the standard curriculum at NCHS and the CCM,” Stuart said. “Carolyn had told me of the enthusiasm and fiery spirit of Ms. Kiepe and it is absolutely spot on.

“I left the meeting with 50 new friends, associates and partners.  The result of our gathering is a working agenda between the students of Neshoba Central and the Congress of Country Music with   collaborations that are upcoming. This, I believe, will set a standard for all musically-minded schools throughout the nation to follow.”

Kiepe was pleased with the way Stuart and the students interacted.

“When the meeting first started, the students had a wait-and-see attitude,” Kiepe said. “Then Marty came in and told them his vision. By the time it was over, they were hooked. He exceeded all of my expectations.”

As the Congress of Country Music moves forward, Stuart promised more initiatives will follow.

“This is only the beginning, we are eager, now, to partner with other area schools and universities to discuss similar opportunities,” Stuart said.