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Kathy Mattea Follows the Breadcrumb Trail

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Wednesday November 14, 2018

From NPR

Kathy Mattea And Alanna Quinn-Broadus Followed The ‘Breadcrumb Trail Back To Singing’
By: Jewly Hight

The human voice is the most physical instrument of all, its sound generated by delicate, undulating pleats of flesh in the throat that give each singer a distinctive timbre and are exceedingly vulnerable to all manner of injury and decline. But that unique form of vulnerability isn’t something that most singers are comfortable talking about.

Kathy Mattea and Alanna Quinn-Broadus are exceptions to that rule. They inhabit completely different musical worlds — Mattea a sophisticated folk-country singer-songwriter who enjoyed major mainstream success from the mid-‘80s into the ’90s and Quinn-Broadus the impetuous frontwoman and songwriter of the muscular, horn-heated, Nashville-based soul band Alanna Royale. But each artist has been stopped in her tracks by vocal difficulties and, together, speak a shared language about how profoundly they were changed by those ordeals leading up to their latest releases. Mattea’s rapturous exercise in song interpretation, Pretty Bird, was released Sept. 7 and Alanna Royale’s punchy, vital EP, So Bad You Can Taste It, was released on Aug. 3.

What is it like to have doubts about something that’s not only central to your livelihood, but central to your identity?

KM: […] I took six months off the road and I started working with Bill, and [eventually] I was like, “I think we’re making some progress, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near where I need to be. But if I don’t go back out there on stage, I’m going to be so scared and it’ll be about perfection.” And it never was about perfection. So I called my manager and I was like, “I need gigs. I don’t even care where they are. I have got to sing in front of people.”

It was just me and Bill, so I’m vulnerable and exposed. There’s no band. So, I would just walk out on stage and say, “I’m struggling with my voice and sometimes it’s a thing of wonder and sometimes I hit kryptonite. If I do, I’ll just start all over, and we’ll find out together what my voice will do tonight.” What I found was that my audience appreciated so much being let into the story. They were on my side and it wasn’t about perfection—it was about being real. The realer I got, the deeper the connection was, and they got to take the journey with me.

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