Kathy Mattea Highlights Appalachia

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Thursday January 24, 2013

From The Hartford Courant

Kathy Mattea In Two Concerts
By: Erik Ofgang

Celebrated country-pop singer Kathy Mattea has deep ties to Appalachia and its coal industry.

“Both my grandfathers were coal miners,” says the West Virginia Native during a recent interview. “My dad’s dad picked 30-inch coal with a pick and in the winter he never saw the light of day. He’d go down in the mines before the sun came up and come up after it went down.” (Thirty-inches was the height of the shaft, so miners had to worked hunched over or on their stomachs or backs.)

This personal connection has inspired her last two albums, 2008’s “Coal,” and her latest, “Calling Me Home,” released in September. When Mattea performs on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. at Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, she and her band will perform songs from both recent albums as well as major hits from throughout her career.

“On ‘Coal’ I just went back to all the lexicon of songs written about coal mining over the years, I did that as a response to a big mining disaster back in West Virginia and that record changed my life,” she says. “It was like finding a missing piece in your jigsaw puzzle, it was discovering this treasure trove of music. On ‘Calling Me Home’ I wanted to continue exploring that music but not with such a boxed-in theme. I had also gotten more involved with environmental causes in all kinds of ways, and I wanted to have sort of a subtle environmental theme under it. So the album is sort of the celebration of the culture of Appalachia and the unique kind of beauty of the land. Most of West Virginia and Appalachia is very rural and there’s a certain way that people live in cooperation with the land. I wanted to try and highlight that.”

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