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Kathy Mattea The Teacher

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Thursday November 17, 2016

From The Asheville Citizen-Times

Finding your voice: Swannanoa Gathering announces 26th go
By: Hayley Benton

As Kathy Mattea waltzes onto the stage, she grabs her guitar and, for just a moment, she hesitates. She’s done this thousands of times — but the two-time Grammy winner knows that, no matter how many times a song is rehearsed, a live performance is special — intimate no matter the size of the crowd.

It may seem, watching from the audience, that the performer simply puts on a show, leaves, then goes on to the next venue. But to the singer, the musician, each performance varies by the slight ache in her wrist, slowing her rhythmic strumming and, thus, the tempo of the song — the sore throat returning from this morning, giving her songs a grittier quality than that of last night’s show. Emotional highs and lows, however subtle, come through each night on stage.

“Having someone witness your vulnerability” is a powerful thing, Mattea said, chatting in the halls of Warren Wilson College, just before instructing a class at last summer’s Swannanoa Gathering.

Held every year since 1991 on Warren Wilson’s campus, the Swannanoa Gathering just announced its 26th year and its 2017 course schedule.

The college each summer uses its scenic campus just east of Asheville to bring together more than 1,200 people, from famous musicians to hobbyist pickers and strummers.

For another year, Mattea (and others from this past summer, like folk legend Janis Ian) will teach both abstract and concrete lessons in all-things-music.

“She runs her course kind of like a group therapy session,” said Kyle McCurry, director of media relations at the college. Though, instead of psychology, it’s singing, playing, sharing your talents in a group that makes the class therapeutic to its students.

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