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Kathy Mattea opts for "Coal"

Thursday, February 14, 2008 – Kathy Mattea will release her 17th album, "Coal," a collection of songs paying tribute to her West Virginian family heritage in the region's coal mining culture, on April 1. Marty Stuart producedthe disc.

The tragic Sago Mine disaster, which killed 12 miners in 2006, brought back memories of the Farmington Mine disaster of 1968 near Fairmont, West Va. - an event that still haunts the then-9-year-old Mattea, whose grandfathers were miners and whose mother worked for the union. "When Sago happened, I got catapulted back to that moment in my life and thought, 'I need to do something with this emotion, and maybe this album is the place to channel it.' I knew the time was right."

The album features traditional and contemporary songs, many by songwriters with Appalachian roots. Songs by Jean Ritchie, Billy Edd Wheeler, Hazel Dickens, Si Kahn, Utah Phillips, Merle Travis and Darrell Scott were all chosen to articulate "the lifestyle, the bigger struggles," and "to speak to the sense of place and sense of attachment people have to each other and to the land."

Fellow West Virginia native and writer Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys and the upcoming Red Helmet) provides liner notes for the album, which plays like a textured novel itself, and features a trio of Nashville A-list players:

Musicians on the album include Byron House (bass); Bill Cooley (guitar); and Stuart Duncan (fiddle, banjo). Stuart also plays guitar and mandolin, and duets with guest background vocalist Patty Loveless on the track, "Blue Diamond Mines." Tim O'Brien and sister Mollie O'Brien, longtime musical compatriots of Mattea's, share the other background vocals. John Catchings on cello; Randy Leago on keyboards and accordion; and guest steel player Fred Newell round out the players.

Mattea's connection to land and planetary issues was stimulated in 2006 after she attended Al Gore's global warming power-point presentation at Vanderbilt University. She "walked out with a burning commitment to take this message to as many people as I can." She trained with Gore and scientists and now travels with the Climate Project presenting the slide-show lecture to audiences across the U.S.

"I want to spread the word of hope to regular people. We really can be part of the solution," Mattea said of the education project. "Even the smallest action empowers us to change our world."

Of the new album, Mattea reckons, "It's a coming together of a lot of different threads of my life."

"Coal" will be released on Mattea's newly formed label Captain Potato Records.

More news for Kathy Mattea

CD reviews for Kathy Mattea

Calling Me Home CD review - Calling Me Home
As a commercially successful country artist during the '80s and '90s, Kathy Mattea hit the top 20 with no fewer than 21 singles, and although she last reached the top 10 almost 2 decades ago with Walking Away a Winner, she has continually produced high quality music that has become more engaging with each release. "Calling Me Home" picks up fairly close to where 2008's outstanding "Coal" left off. The Cross Lanes, West Va. native continues to mine the »»»
Coal CD review - Coal
This could have been just one more example of a contemporary country artist tapping into the traditional country vein, a career tactic that has been explored nearly to the point of revulsion in the post-"O Brother, Where Art Thou" world. But Kathy Mattea would have none of that. Mattea, who calls herself a "child of coal" in the album's liner notes, really has a feel for these mining songs, having grown up in West Virginia where the mines were a way of life - and death »»»
Right Out Of Nowhere CD review - Right Out Of Nowhere
Kathy Mattea still gets lumped in with other female country singers, even though an 'eclectic song interpreter' is probably a more apt descriptor. Although she strays just about as far away from traditional country as folks like Faith Hill do, at least she chooses a much more rewarding travel route. On this new collection, for instance, she covers both The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival, with "Gimme Shelter" and "Down On The Corner," respectively. These two tracks unabashedly rock the jukebox. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: MerleFest Showcases Diversity On Its Second Day – Although primarily thought of as a "roots music" festival, the artists at MerleFest can and do come from a variety of genres and locales. On the first full day of this year's festival that point was underscored with performances from not just bluegrass and string bands but also rock 'n' roll, soul, and international acts... »»»
Concert Review: MerleFest Opening Night Showcases Both New and Familiar Artists – Long running North Carolina roots music festival MerleFest is a family friendly affair that has proven to have appeal to different generations. The lineup for Thursday's opening night, then, could be seen as a mirror to that audience as it contained artists ranging from multiple-year veterans of the festival down to first-year rookies.... »»»
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