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Kathy Mattea's 'Love Letter to Appalachia'

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Wednesday March 07, 2012

From Metro Pulse

Kathy Mattea and Barbara Kingsolver Team Up to Stop Mountaintop-Removal Mining
By: Cari Wade Gervin

“I’ve never really thought of myself as an activist,” Kathy Mattea says at the beginning of our interview. You can hear the melody in Mattea’s slightly gravelly voice as she talks, sounding as down to earth as you or I, not like the winner of multiple Grammy awards with a bevy of top 10 hits on the country music charts.

Although she was one of the first country music stars to champion the fight against HIV/AIDS, Mattea says her interest in social justice was always just something that was just there, not at the forefront of her life.

And then, one day in 2006, that all changed.

On Jan. 2 of that year, 13 coal miners became trapped in the Sago Mine in West Virginia after an explosion. Early news reports said the men had survived the blast, but two days later, only one man was pulled out alive.

“I was absolutely crushed by this,” Mattea says now. “Both my grandfathers were coal miners, but my dad got out. So I never thought of it as my story, it was my parents’ story. But this just hit me—I would be driving down the street in the middle of the day and just burst into tears.”

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