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West Virginians Who Matter: Kathy Mattea

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Wednesday March 12, 2014

From The Martinsburg Journal

West Virginians Who Matter: Kathy Mattea
By: Bob O’Connor

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth part of a 52-week series to run throughout 2014 on 52 West Virginians who made a difference and who matter. They are authors, entertainers, politicians, historical figures and others.

She is a country singer, and the daughter of a coal miner. No, not that coal miner’s daughter. This is West Virginia country singing star Kathy Mattea. Kathy was born in South Charleston in 1959. She grew up in Cross Lanes and graduated from Nitro High School.

She was “discovered” singing in Girl Scout Camp. Her first band was “Pennsboro,” a bluegrass band at West Virginia University she joined in 1976. She gave up pursuit of a college degree to pursue her love for music. She followed those interest to Nashville, Tenn., the home of country music. She started at the bottom, as a tour guide for the Country Music Hall of Fame and sang backup to several groups including vocals for Bobby Goldsboro.

Her first record deal was signed with Mercury Records in 1983. Her third album, “Walk the Way the Wind Blows,” gave Kathy her first major hit, “Love at the Five and Dime” that topped out as No. 3 on the country music charts. Three more of the album’s songs reached the top 10 for singles. She was invited to open for George Strait on his concert tour.

And the rest, as they say, is history. To date she has recorded 17 albums. She has had more than 30 singles in the Country Music charts. And she has had the following No. 1 hits – “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”; “Come From the Heart”; “Goin’ Gone”; and “Burn’ Old Memories.”

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