Nashville, TN – June 27th, 2012 - Most artists take fewer and fewer risks as they get older, but Kathy Mattea is a striking exception. She didn’t play it safe while she charted mainstream country hits—16 of them reaching the top ten—and she’s not about to start now.
Four years ago, Mattea, one of the most sure-footed country-pop song interpreters of her generation, caught everyone off guard with an album of old-timey Appalachian mining songs called Coal. She’s delved even deeper into her Appalachian heritage with Calling Me Home, available from Sugar Hill on September 11th, 2012, co-produced with modern acoustic mastermind Gary Paczosa and featuring liner notes from bestselling author, and Kentucky-born kindred spirit, Barbara Kingsolver.
Mattea’s new direction couldn’t have taken her further from her old way of doing things. Where once she was pitched songs by Music Row writers, now she collects the generations-old and new but old-in-soul tunes that move her at folk gatherings, and rounds out her repertoire through extensive research. Two songs here came from a CD that Alice Gerrard, of the influential ‘70s folk duo Hazel & Alice, personally pressed into her hand at one such festival.
Once Mattea found her songs, there was still the matter of wrapping her voice around them. A mountain modal folk ballad may sound like the simplest thing on earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to sing. Says Kathy, “My big fear when I made Coal was I didn’t grow up singing this stuff from when I was young. I’ve had a commercial music career for decades now. Am I gonna sound like a lounge singer trying to sing Appalachian songs?”
Thankfully, that fear didn’t stop her from taking the leap, and both Coal and Calling Me Home offer decisive proof that she’s no dilettante. She’s always had a profound respect for traditional folk music—her ancestors played it, and in college she even took clawhammer banjo lessons and formed a bluegrass band—but she only recently came to accept that the music is in her blood. “I had to sing ‘Black Lung’ with Hazel Dickens in the fourth row,” she says, referring to the classic song and the revered Appalachian woman who wrote and sang it, about the tragic death of her brother. “Now that will grow you up. Either you own your performance of the song, or you don’t.”
Even during her radio-ruling days in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Kathy was proud of representing the people and place she hailed from on the global stage, but it was only after she’d been away from Cross Lanes, West Virginia for some three decades that she felt called to fully immerse herself in musical appreciation of her roots. That she sings from the perspective of an Appalachian whose career took her elsewhere is part of what makes Calling Me Home feel as contemporary as it does traditional. The top-notch cast of players doesn’t hurt either. The contributions of the multi-talented Stuart Duncan and Bryan Sutton, along with bassist Byron House, percussionist Jim Brock, harmonizing siblings and fellow native West Virginians Tim and Mollie O’Brien and Mattea’s longtime guitarist Bill Cooley, make for a crisp, vivid new-timey string band palette.
There just isn’t a template for a career like Kathy Mattea’s. Her mainstream accomplishments have already earned her a place in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and, never one to tread water creatively, she’s made her gracefully daring leap into the roots-honoring trad folk world. “To be a complete novice at something after you’ve been singing for three or four decades, to feel that humility of ‘I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to pull this off again,’ it’s a great gift,” she shares. “A lot of times people go through their whole lives and never get to that place.”
And it’s a very good place for Mattea to be. “I feel like I just made the album of my life; I articulated something I was put here to say. It’s my childhood and life experience of a sense of place and culture and history and family, and of all the music that I’ve learned and all I’ve learned performing all rolled into one thing.
Concert Review – Kathy Mattea at Silver Center For The Arts in Plymouth, NH My Kind Of Country by Jonathan Pappalardo on March 21, 2013
Kathy Mattea came ready to give it her all. Amidst a blinding snowstorm, and the after effects of the head cold that had eluded her to three days prior, she took the stage Feb 23 in the teeny 665 seat Hanaway Theatre (located in isolated Plymouth, NH) with just three other musicians, a caravan of guitars, and a message.
Of late Mattea has been outspoken on the subject of coal, or “Black Gold” as she sings in a recent song. Her crusade opened a so-far two-album floodgate, a life-changing detour into the Appalachian Folk songs of her West Virginian heritage and the most fully realized music of her thirty-year recording career. Her otherworldly alto graces the lyrics of Jean Ritchie, Laurie Lewis, Hazel Dickens, and Alice Garrard with the plainspoken beauty of a woman directly in line with her authentic center.
But even more impressive is Mattea’s ability to blend the “new” with the old, creating a woven tapestry linked by environmental cause, a deep sense of history, and a sharp ear. She opened with the first track on Calling Me Home (“A Far Cry”) before launching into “Lonesome Standard Time,” her #11 peaking single from 1992, without skipping a beat. She then graced the audience with my favorite of her singles, “Standing Knee Deep In A River (Dying of Thrust),” which was recently reinstated back into her set.
The intermingling of her past hits and newer material took me by surprise. I expected Mattea to focus mainly on the subject of coal, with a dusting of her biggest hits, thus leaving non-signature tunes as distant memories. But instead Mattea covered the hallowed ground between her past and present with the seamless ease of a songstress in tune with every note, paying close attention to every lyric.
Dressed in a mint green blouse, black jacket, and casual leggings, Mattea had the confidence of a seasoned professional but the cool of an everywoman; she was one among equals not a star singing to a crowd. Her greatest virtue was her subtlety, showcased through her candor and humor, on par with that of a next-door neighbor, a friend.
She greeted us like we’ve known her all our lives, commending us “Plymouthians” on our toughness in weather, braving a major snowstorm like a bright sunny day. Later she encouraged communal participation, denouncing those who belittled us for an inability to carry a tune, before having us sing loud and proud on multiple choruses of both “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and “Come From The Heart.” The latter bonded us as a tight-knit family – she enthusiastically attempted to get us clapping on the offbeat, which wasn’t meant to be. Clapping on all beats didn’t work either so plan B had us singing “You gotta sing like you don’t need the money, love like you’ll never get hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, it’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work” at the tops of our lungs.
Further audience participation caused an off-script deviation into “Mary, Did You Know” and a proclamation that it wasn’t included with the $35 ticket price. She rolled with the flow, only grappling with the tune to see if she could reach the high note without her head popping off (she did have a head cold, after all). The song soared, and proved that sick or healthy professionalism wins out every time.
My favorite moment of the night confirmed another of Mattea’s many facets -her shrewd intellect. Her successful blending of old and new cumulated in a shared linkage – most of Mattea’s songs are deeply rooted in various fossil flues, albeit generally indirectly. I’d never viewed her material from such a focal point before, and she gracefully clarified her hypothesis, explaining how she’s singing about the diesel fuel of trains (“Lonesome Standard Time”) and the long hall truckers (“Eighteen Wheels”) to the coal. This led to a fabulous rendition of “455 Rocket” (fossil fuel: gasoline), her 1997 single and final top 20 chart hit. (In another showcase of her clever humor, I loved how she modified the line, “as we skid I thought I heard angles sing (sounded like the Beach Boys)” into a sly commentary on Beyoncé’s recent lip-synching scandal).
Mattea went on to grace us with more stories – how she first played the banjo in college only to pick it up again more recently, and the time she performed in newly restored theatre in Ohio, only to find out the majority of the audience didn’t know whom she was. She was candid on the subject of marriage, mentioning her and Jon’s recent (the prior week) 25-year milestone, gracing us with “Love Chooses You,” a Willow In The Wind album cut, and the song sung at their wedding.
Before “Love At The Five and Dime” she remarked on Nanci Griffith’s writing, likening the second verse to poetry, and shared that her classic “Where’ve You Been” almost wasn’t written, if co-writer Don Henry hadn’t been in the room. The latter came with a tale about a man with Alzheimer’s who’d forgotten his wife, until a visit in which she and their daughter were yelling at each other – and memories came flooding back.
Some of my favorite moments weren’t even the older hits (she also sang “Untold Stories,” another unexpected surprise) but the new material, even more simplistic on stage, than record. The quiet beauty of “Agate Hill” elicited tears, while her effective reading of “West Virginia Mine Disaster” showcased her storytelling prowess. “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” was a nice uptempo change of pace, and “Coal Tattoo” really let the band rip.
My other great joy, and the benefits of my front row center seat, was witnessing the nuances of the band in action all evening. Sitting that close, I was able to take in all that was happening on stage and watch the four musicians bring each song to life with the fullness of a full ensemble. The front row seat brought an appreciation to the evening that even two or three rows back would’ve made near impossible.
Seeing Mattea live was one of those musical highlights of life where everything comes together perfectly for a truly outstanding evening. She’s an otherworldly talent who has only aged with sincere grace and humility since her Nashville hit making days. If you’ve never attending one of her shows, or if it’s been a while since your last evening with Mattea, it’s well worth it to catch her when she’s in your area. It’ll likely be one of the best musical nights of your life. That was certainty the case for me.
Kathy Mattea gets back to her folkie roots Chicago Tribune By Chrissie Dickinson, Special to the Tribune
Kathy Mattea's evolution from country hit-maker to respected trad-folkie
isn't a reinvention. It's a return home.
Mattea, 53, first made her name in mainstream country in the late 1980s and
early '90s with a string of hits, including "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen
Roses" and "Where've You Been." In 2008 the singer pulled a 180-degree turn
with the release of "Coal." The spare and haunting collection of acoustic
songs that harked back to her Appalachian roots snagged Mattea a Grammy
nomination in the traditional folk category.
Mattea follows up that triumph with the recently released "Calling Me Home"
(Sugar Hill), a rich acoustic collection built on mandolin, fiddle, banjo,
Dobro, zither, percussion and guitar. Mattea performs Friday at the Old Town
School of Folk Music.
Like its predecessor, the aptly titled "Calling Me Home" continues her
exploration of the mountain country from which she came. It's a personal
journey that began four years ago with "Coal."
"In a lot of ways, 'Coal' was a career record for me," she says. "It woke
something up for me. People that you wouldn't even think would be concerned
with the story of coal really connected with it, both musically and to the
human side of the story. It also connected me with my own family story. It
knitted together a bigger picture and changed the way I see my own life."
Mattea assembled a rootsy all-star cast for the making of "Calling Me Home."
Gary Paczosa, who has worked with Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton, is on
board as co-producer. The musicians include the sterling bluegrass
multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan. Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Krauss
and Tim and Mollie O'Brien contribute background vocals.
"Calling Me Home" includes liner notes courtesy of best-selling novelist and
Kentucky native Barbara Kingsolver. Mattea first met the author this year at
an event to discuss mountain top removal.
"It's a very extreme form of strip mining all over Appalachia," Mattea says.
"Barbara and I were doing what we could to let people know what the results
of this mining are, which are really tough for the people who live there and
for the environment."
Mattea was just putting the finishing touches on "Calling Me Home" and had
"It just seemed like a no-brainer to ask her to write the liner notes," says
Mattea. "I really felt the kindred thing with her because of a lot of what
she writes about Appalachia echoes my own experience and my own feelings."
Mattea grew up in Cross Lanes, W. Va. "Ten minutes up the river was downtown
Charleston," she says. "Ten minutes down the river was the little coal town
my mom grew up in. So I grew up in both worlds."
On both "Coal" and "Calling Me Home," Mattea covers songs by two Appalachian
music legends: Hazel Dickens, who passed away last year at 75, and Jean
Ritchie, now 89. Mattea got to know both women.
"They're both fierce in their own way," says Mattea. "I love that about both
of them. That's part of what's so beautiful about that culture - what you
see is what you get."
Meeting Dickens and Ritchie inspired Mattea to double down on forging her
own singular path. "Hazel and Jean never deviated from who they were," she
says. "They didn't second-guess anything. There's just a real purity to both
of them. I walked away with inspiration that I wanted to be as pure in my
Kathy-ness as Hazel was in her Hazel-ness and Jean is in being Jean Ritchie.
I want to know myself and my own direction and my own depth as an artist and
a person in the same way."
On "Coal," Mattea covered the dark classic "Black Lung," a stark lament
Dickens wrote about the coal miner's lung disease that killed her brother.
After the release of "Coal," Mattea found herself on stage singing "Black
Lung" with Dickens in attendance. No pressure there.
"Oh lord, that was a moment that'll grow you up, having to sing 'Black Lung'
with Hazel Dickens in the first row," Mattea says. "That was the moment when
I thought, 'Well Kathy, you either own your performance with this song or
you don't, and now is when you find out.' Hazel came up and said, 'You know,
I really enjoyed that. I'm always singing that song, I never get to just sit
and listen to the story.'"
Several songs on the new release return Mattea to the complicated subject of
coal as both an environmental issue and a livelihood for miners. The
Celtic-tinged "West Virginia Mine Disaster" is a tragic story-song written
by Ritchie. Mattea wraps her rich alto around the conflicted lyrics of
"Hello, My Name is Coal." "Some say I'm a savior / Some say death is what I
bring / I've broke miners' backs and hearts / and I've wrestled for their
"As far as the emotional impact for me, there's a lot of beauty in these
songs and a lot of heart," she says. "I was looking for songs that made me
feel a certain fullness. I was looking for a different kind of beauty. Even
songs about loss can be that. Sometimes there has to be a death before there
can be a resurrection."
Kathy Mattea Comes Home on New Album
Singer Shares Memories of Hit-Making Years in 1980s and 1990s CMT.com
September 20, 2012
Kathy Mattea's home state of West Virginia inspired her compelling new album, Calling Me Home. Even though she's no longer striving for country radio success, she considers her current music-making approach to be similar to her hit-making heyday in the 1980s and 1990s ... Read full article
Review Country Universe by Ben Foster
September 20, 2012
The album does everything that music in its finest and purest form is meant to do. The resulting product is not only the best country album of 2012, but a new peak for a woman who has already made some of the most compelling music of her generation. Without a doubt, Mattea’s Calling Me Home is a must-have ... Read full review
Kathy Mattea: Calling Me Home PopMatters By Brice Ezell 14 September 2012
The September 11th release of Calling Me Home, Kathy Mattea’s fourteenth studio LP, is fitting given the subject material. The plight of the coal miner has been around for a considerable amount of time in the history of the United States, but when “the world stopped turning on that September day”, the state of things for blue-collar workers changed significantly. 9/11 may not have changed everything, but as a moment in American history it’s undeniably pivotal ... read full review
Top Picks: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, country musician Kathy Mattea's new album, and more ... Christian Science Monitor
Home sweet sound Kathy Mattea has always had the best mezzo-soprano in the country-music business, and with Calling Me Home, she brings deep emotions into ... read full review
Kathy Mattea Strips Away Old Habits on 'Calling Me Home' Billboard
"It was a little bit like being naked" Kathy Mattea's last album, 2008's "Coal," topped the Bluegrass Albums chart and earned her a Grammy nomination.
Kathy Mattea's last album, 2008's "Coal," topped the Bluegrass Albums chart and earned her a Grammy nomination. Her newest Sugar Hill release, "Calling Me Home," is very much in the same vein musically as its' predecessor, but the singer tells Billboard that she feels she took things a step further with the new collection ... read full review
West Virginia girl Mattea celebrates Appalachian roots Charleston Gazette
Since her chart-topping run in the '80s when she was one of country music's most celebrated and awarded singers, Kathy Mattea has looked more and more inward, a road that always leads her back to West Virginia. She admittedly discovered the depth of ... read full review
Music Review: On 'Calling Me Home,' Kathy Mattea sings eloquently ... Washington Post
Kathy Mattea, “Calling Me Home” (Sugar Hill) The album opens with a forlorn fiddle, feverish and fidgety until it finally settles on a D. With that, the tone is set.
Bluegrass rarely gets more bluesy than on “Calling Me Home.” This is mountain music, sorrowful and restless and struggling to make sense of its surroundings and the way they’ve changed ... read full review
Folk songstress Kathy Mattea returns with a new record and a nostalgic approach to her roots Nashville Scene
Calling Her Home by Jon Weisberger
"I'm from West 'by-God' Virginia," says the opening line of Larry Cordle and Jenee Fleenor's brilliant first-person narrative, "Hello, My Name Is Coal," and when Kathy Mattea sings it, as she does on Calling Me Home, her brand-new release on Sugar Hill Records, it's the simple truth. The song is one of several that revolve around coal and the people who work in it, but while the album represents an extension of Coal, the Grammy-nominated, Marty Stuart-produced project that preceded it, the title of this one's a tip-off that it deals with a broader range of subjects ... read full review
GAC Album Review: Kathy Mattea’s Calling Me Home By Daryl Addison
Born and raised in West Virginia, Kathy Mattea’s deep connection to her home state and its rich history has fueled her musical vision in recent years. Nominated for a Grammy in the Traditional Folk category for her socially-conscious 2008 album, Coal, Kathy is now set to release her 16th studio album, Calling Me Home, on September 11. The project, which Kathy co-produced with Gary Paczosa (Joey + Rory, The Steep Canyon Rangers), builds on the activist themes of her recent work as she delves further into Appalachian roots music ... read full review
Kathy Mattea: Calling Me Home
[Sugar Hill Records] BY THOMAS KINTNER
When an artist who had made her share of markedly sensible musical lane changes over the years swerved emphatically from the beaten path to clamber up a dirt road into the mountains, there was no turning back. 2008’s Coal was the album of Kathy Mattea’s career, and opened a third act for the one-time mainstream country star with an embrace of a traditional folk strain for which the singer showed a natural affinity.
She achieves the same affecting mesh of Appalachian fundamentalism and progressive social statement with Calling Me Home, a companion volume that puts the overall project in the same conversation of transformative reinventions as Dolly Parton's three-disc bluegrass period.
With minimalist string band arrangements framing essentials-only backdrops, Mattea makes the most of the dance between voice and lyric, extracting simple charms with carefully weathered warmth and tasteful inflection. Messages as direct as they are thoughtful blossom when fertilized with earnestness, a quality the singer achieves with gentle evocation and breathy subtleties amid the mandolin-gilded trickle of “The Wood Thrush’s Song.”
The collection is primitively political but primarily humanistic, making its case with displays of affection and plaintive contemplations, and holding the music in an esteem that rises above its utility to illustrate a point of view. Always a sucker for a good story tune, she squeezes “West Virginia Mine Disaster” for all it’s worth, capturing its despair with compelling maturity, an almost matter-of-fact delivery that makes its resigned melancholy simmer.
Because the material rewards simplicity, refinements developed over the 53-year-old Mattea’s decades-long career sometimes prove an impediment. “Gone, Gonna Rise Again” is homespun to a degree that defies sophistication, and to dig into it, Mattea sheds gloss and polish and adopts affect to evoke the phrasings of a simple narrator. It is a change of gears that makes it sound like she is trying, which undercuts the song’s uncomplicated native charms.
With Gary Paczosa co-producing, Mattea picks up threads established the last time around with Marty Stuart, culling material set at the confluence of nature and industry from folk and bluegrass artists a generation ahead of her. Jean Ritchie’s “Black Waters” is an elegant lament for a spoiled land, built around levelheaded delivery and an oh-so-folky hopeful ending. An a cappella reading of Alice Gerrard’s title track oozes soothing spirituality, and a wander through Hazel Dickens’ “ West Virginia , My Home” is an airy light at the end of the tunnel – just follow the mandolin flutter.
Given how much the two albums share in theme and execution, the new collection is less of a revelation than its predecessor, but its niche is a comfortable fit at this stage of Mattea’s career, another installment in a renaissance of fresh substance. As she colors “A Far Cry,” pacing its steady fiddle’s whine with sinewy vocal punctuations that provide gravity between interludes of soaring, her ability to bring out its details and make its essential character relatable serves as a reminder of her versatility, and a refresher on things she has done well all along.
Mattea is surely preaching, but only in a practical sense. As she navigates the deliberate, accordion-lined reminiscence “Agate Hill,” she grasps for things she holds dear and draws them near, offering a grounded reassurance that even as it struggles, the world around us is in fact that better place of which we dream. For any listener with a heart, it’s difficult to not want to believe.
September's annual "Unplugged" weekend benefits North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. Founded by Kathy's husband, singer-songwriter Jon Vezner, this year's shows marked the 10th Anniversary, and featured many of the favorite performers from the first nine years.On hand for the celebration were Kathy, Tim O'Brien, Cheryl Wheeler, John Gorka, Michael Johnson, Cathie Ryan, Lindsay Mac, Sally Barris, Pat Donahue, Mary Flower, Michael Monroe, and Great Lake Swimmers.
Photos: Stephan Hoglund/Mountain Stage
Kathy was recently inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in Charleston WV. The Class of 2011 also included Connie Smith, Billy Cox, Butch Miles and others who were on hand for the black tie gala event in October. Previous inductees include artists and performers from all musical genres: Hazel Dickens, The Lilly Brothers, Frankie Yankovic, Bill Withers, and Charlie McCoy, to name just a few.
Photos courtesy of Glenda Paradee/Thanks for the Music.com
Click on a thumbnail above to open the gallery of the show and rehearsals.
Long-time friend and collaborator (and fellow West Virginian) Tim O'Brien was on hand to present Kathy's award after offering his heartfelt remarks on her contributions to the music and the state, and also to accompany (along with Bill Cooley and Michael Lipton) her performance of "West Virginia Mine Disaster".
Kathy took the opportunity to thank her family and her fans (many of whom were in attendance), and the many artists, teachers, and creators who inspired, mentored, and supported her throughout her career.
Hangin' backstage (L-R): Tim O'Brien, guitarist Bill Cooley, manager Marc Dottore, Kathy, and Connie Smith with husband/presenter Marty Stuart.
And with dear friends and fans.........
Kathy served as Artist in Residence at Boston's Berklee College of Music, continuing her long running affiliation with the innovative and influential music center. During her stay she conducted a vocal master class, presented her multimedia program "My Coal Journey", and, with help from guitarist/bandleader Bill Cooley, led a concert of her music featuring arrangements and performances by a hand-picked band of students. She'll also meet with Berklee students in Nashville during their annual field trip to the Music City. Check out the photos below for a glimpse of the fun:
Kathy works on the concert set list with the project leader, Professor Stephen Webber.
Kathy and Bill work on "Battle Hymn of Love" with student band members Eric Robertson and Sierra Hull. Sierra and her Highway 111 Band provided the opening set for Kathy's concert, as well as performing with the group.
WORLDS COLLIDE! Kathy gets a lesson in "scratchin'"...........
..........and gets down, yo!
The rhythm section gathers 'round the ol' turntable: Will (piano,tuba, string arranger and conductor), Vanessa (alto and baritone sax), DJ Kap'n P, Stephen (guitar, banjo, turntable), Caleb (drums, percussion,washboard), Mike (just bass), and Alex (organ and piano).
Kathy and the group enjoyed a whirlwind trip to Rabat, Morocco for the 9th annual Mawazine World Music Festival, which features 60 acts from around the world on multiple stages over 10 days (their version of Bonnaroo??). After performing at the King Mohammed V Theater on Friday evening May 28, the group was whisked away in one of the King's sedans to the outdoor stage nearby, where they joined 50,000 other music lovers for Carlos Santana's rocking set. Kathy and husband Jon stayed an extra day for sightseeing, and capped their trip with VIP seats for Saturday's closing concert of the festival: Sting, performing with the Royal Symphony of Morocco. The hospitality, the people, the sights and sounds of the city- all in all a memorable trip to an exotic land!
MUSIC SAVES MOUNTAINS CONCERT
On Wednesday, May 19, Kathy joined Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews, Alison Kraus, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless and a stellar cast at the legendary Ryman Auditorium for the benefit concert supporting "Music Saves Mountains", sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Gibson Foundation, raising money and awareness in the fight against mountaintop removal strip mining used in the Appalachian coal fields. Here are a few photos from that special evening, provided by photographer Glen Ross. For more information and to lend your support, please go to www.musicsavesmountains.org.
Click on any thumbnail below to open gallery.
Americana Gazette Feb/March 2013
Kathy Mattea – The Call of Home
Kathy Mattea is sitting quietly at her kitchen table in Nashville, reflecting on the recent change in her career. She remembers the precise and painful moment when she knew she would take this unexpected dive, this shift in focus from commercial country music to the sweet and sorrowful sounds of Appalachia. Actually, some of us would argue, the change may not be quite as dramatic as it first appears to be on the surface. But with her last two albums, the Grammy-nominated “Coal,” released in 2008, and the even more personal “Calling Me Home,” released last year, Mattea’s music is now fully tied to the “reluctant activism” that has tugged at her heart for nearly twenty years... READ FULL ARTICLE
KATHY MATTEA MAKES RARE NYC APPEARANCE
THE ALLEN ROOM AT LINCOLN CENTER DATE HIGHLIGHTS AMERICAN SONGBOOK SERIES
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kathy Mattea returns to New York City to make an appearance at the intimate Allen Room on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. The special performance is part of the Lincoln Center’s annual American Songbook series, which celebrates the diversity of American popular song across many genres.
In addition to pulling from 17 albums and 16 Top 10 hits, Mattea will treat the audience to music and stories from and about her two most recent albums, Coal and Calling Me Home.
Four years ago, Mattea, one of the most sure-footed country-pop song interpreters of her generation, caught everyone off guard with Coal, an album of old-timey Appalachian mining songs. She delved even deeper into her Appalachian heritage with Calling Me Home, her recent Sugar Hill release. Her new direction couldn’t have taken her further from her old way of doing things. Where once she was pitched songs by Music Row writers, now she collects the generations-old and new but old-in-soul tunes that move her at folk gatherings, and rounds out her repertoire through extensive research. Two songs here came from a CD that Alice Gerrard, of the influential ‘70s folk duo Hazel & Alice, personally pressed into her hand at one such festival.
Possessing one of New York City’s greatest settings, The Allen Room provides audiences a stunning vista of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline and affords an evocative backdrop for the performers. Premium packages for Mattea’s 8:30 pm concert are already sold out, but excellent seats can still be purchased here.
MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE: Kathy continues to happily accept invitations to speak to a variety of audiences on topics dear to her heart. This month she presents the keynote address to the Art Works for Virginia Conference in Richmond, and gives her "My Coal Journey" slideshow presentation as part of the Penn State Forum Speakers Series in State College, PA. Listen up!!!
"Coffee (and Christmas) with Cody (and Kathy!) in the Morning"
Kathy recently caught up with old pal, Bill Cody, host of WSM's morning show. Kathy and guitarist Bill Cooley performed a few Christmas songs for Cody's Christmas breakfast concert live at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Thanks to engineer extraordinaire Charlie Mattos for photography and hospitality.
Kathy will be featured on GAC's "Out of the Box" this coming Monday, November 19 at 4:30PM EST time. Check it out here.
Concert Review Bluegrass Today
A Tribute to Hazel Dickens - - September 26, 2012
By David Morris
"Among my favorite moments: Kathy Mattea’s hauntingly beautiful a cappella performance of Black Lung ... read full review
WSM Radio Podcast
Kathy Mattea on Coffee, Country & Cody
Kathy Mattea on 650am WSM in Nashville, recorded September 4, 2012. Kathy joined us in studio to preview cuts from her new cd
"Calling Me Home" ... listen to podcast
On June 11, 2011, Grammy Award winning singer and environmental and social activist Kathy Mattea spoke to over 1,000 participants at the March on Blair Mountain rally, Blair Mountain, WV. Here are Kathy's remarks.
I am here because I care about these Mountains.
I am here because I care about my own people.
I am here because I care about ALL of the people.
But mostly, I am here because I care about civil conversation, and I care about everyone's human needs and human rights.
I grew up here. My Dad's dad was a miner in Cannelton Hollow in Fayette County, and my Mom's Dad was a miner in Plymouth Hollow in Putnam County.
My Mom was born in 1921, 6 months before the March on Blair Mountain. My Grandpa Legg helped organize the UMW in WVa. He once walked 50 miles, from Bancroft in Putnam County, all the way to Cabin Creek, to see Mother Jones speak. 50 miles each way, on his day off from the mine.
He and his Union brothers helped finish what was started here on Blair Mountain.
My Mom worked at the UMW office in Charleston, and my brother works in the coal industry today.
I came to stand here, on THIS ground, on this day, with all of you, because what we are attempting to save here echoes what I value deeply in my own life.
In 1921, thousands of people on this mountain—miners, and ordinary people from all walks of life who supported them—stood together to say NO MORE. You can kill us, but we are going to stand together and CLAIM our rights as Human Beings…… You may take our lives, but you cannot have our dignity, or our co-operation. THAT, WE STILL POSSESS.
There are lots of heroes here today. Many of them have stood on this stage and spoken to you. But for me, you are all heroes. This is important work you're doing. You've left your lives and your comfort to come here, some of you from many miles away, because you can see the importance of human dignity and environmental responsibility.
Each of you is one small person, just a drop. But together, you have made a great WAVE here this week.
I am proud to say I have 7 family members marching here today.
This is what happens when we band together: the voice gets louder, the message gets stronger, and all over this country they are starting to HEAR US.
If the prosperity of some is built on the exploitation of others, everyone loses. And yet, if we simply exchange one group's needs for another's, we still lose.
There is a great challenge before us….
Can we imagine a place where there is room for ALL of us? Can we dare to dream that big?
I believe we must hold very clearly in our hearts, the needs of the people who depend on this mining for their livelihoods. Their human dignity, their needs MUST be considered, as we consider our own. This is true nonviolence. No one is expendable.
EVERYONE, ALL people… need a safe place to live, a way to make a decent living and a sense of security for themselves and their family.
I believe there is a way to move towards a civil conversation. And it starts with REMEMBERING, that we are not enemies, we are brothers and sisters in conflict.
Blair Mountain is the place where ALL of us, have a stake: environmentalists, coal field residents, Labor Unions, miners and working people.
THIS IS OUR COMMON GROUND.
We all have a connection to this mountain.
I do not stand against any fellow Appalachian.
I am simply FOR ALL Appalachians.
I desperately Yearn for EVERYONE to be safe, to have CHOICES, and to be FREE to make them.
"Montani Semper Liberi."
"Mountaineers are Always Free."
I have seen the power of ordinary people to change the world, even against great odds.
I believe it is possible, because I have seen it happen. I have even seen glimpses of it here in the coalfields.
So let's keep showing up and telling this story, and swelling our ranks, until the rest of the world HEARS US.
But let us also LISTEN. Let us strive to sit still for a minute and consider our brothers and sisters on the other side, what it feels like to be scared of losing our livelihoods, our way of providing for our families, how SCARY that would be.
This is true nonviolence…it is nonviolence in the HEART. And it is a tall order.
Let's take this grassroots movement and start CREATING.
Let's reach out to those with vision, who understand economics and diversity.
I have a vision of a West Virginia where the people don't just get by with a job---they PROSPER.
We need leaders—leaders, not politicians--- who can help us diversify our economy, so that coal is no longer the only game in town.
So when you go back home, to Salt Lake City and New York City and Kansas City and Atlantic City….when you go back to college, you students….throw yourselves into the solution here…. Inspire others.
Tell them what close knit communities we are, tell them about the hard working people, tell them how we take care of each other.
Let's go forth from here determined to channel our pain and frustration towards REAL, LONG TERM change.
Even as we come here now…. to witness and support the people who have lost so much, and help them to tell their story.
Like a great ebb and flow, let's KEEP coming back and witnessing the TRUTH of what is going on here.
You ARE change.
It IS happening now.
Let's not forget this place, this day….and lets not forget those who were here before us, whom we remember today.
The Union miners lost here. But they still prevailed in the long run. They held steady, did not falter and claimed an even greater victory down the road.
Let's take them, their determination, their strength, their tenacity, WITH US ALWAYS….. Let's dream big.
And let's keep them ALIVE IN US, as we take this movement forward.
NOW IT CAN BE TOLD......: Kathy was the special "surprise" guest performer at a star-studded retirement concert honoring Martha H. "Marty" Jones for her 25 years of service, the last 15 as Executive Director of the Celebrity Series of Boston concert productions. Somehow the guest of honor was kept completely in the dark until Kathy was announced and walked on stage to close the show; Marty's surprise and elation at seeing Kathy and hearing a couple of her favorite country songs was very evident, and of course, Kathy managed to get her up on stage for a chorus of "Eighteen Wheels", joined by the rest of the evening's performers. The lineup included members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre, a quartet singing Brahms waltzes, Wu Man performing selections for her instrument, the pipa, and a strings-and-piano trio playing Schubert. Kudos to Amy Lam and the Celebrity Series staff for a memorable evening! Here's more information about the night.
Photo credit: Brian Snyder
Photo credit: Brian Snyder
Anyone who knows Kathy's husband, Jon Vezner, knows that the boy is always up to somethin'... The celebrated and successful songwriter and singer may just become an Internet video star as well! Check out his latest project here; you're "appt" to really like it....
Always wondered what Kathy has to say when she's asked to speak to a group of Arts Presenters? Take a look - She's pretty good, even without a guitar! This clip was taken from a Keynote Address at the Performing Arts Exchange conference in Pittsburgh last month. Thanks to PAE, Sage Crump and Ann-Laura Parks for the video footage.
GREY FOX BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
Kathy's first appearance at the highly acclaimed Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival was certainly worth the wait. In the afternoon, she and Tim O'Brien presented songs from their native West Virginia at the Workshop Stage to a standing-room-only crowd that stomped and clapped for more. As the sun was setting, Kathy and her band took the Main Stage with a fiery set heavy with songs from "Coal", and as night fell, Tim invited Kathy to join his band on stage for some (almost) sibling harmony singing. Other highlights on the bill were rising star Sara Jarosz and the always magnificent Sam Bush Band. Even backing the bus 3/4 of a mile in a torrential downpour as they left the festival that night didn't dampen the spirits of Kathy and the band. Looking forward to a return visit to Grey Fox soon!
And then for something completely different.........(at least from a festival standpoint): Cambridge! Just the name conjures visions of tea and crumpets. Campers and tents in neatly laid out neighborhoods, and music lovers flocking to the various tented venues on the grounds to soak up the wonderfully eclectic mix of folk and roots music. The wide-ranging Main Stage bill included the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Celtic stylings of Dervish, Lunasa, and the Unthanks, ballroom swingers Pink Martini, and the evocative songs of Natalie Merchant. Kathy and guitarist Bill Cooley delighted the crowd with lean acoustic versions of new material from "Coal" as well as a sampling of her best-known hits.