Kathy Mattea on WV Mining Disaster (CNN)

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Monday April 12, 2010

(From CNN)

By: Jessica Ravitz
Published: April 10, 2010

Country singer Kathy Mattea still feels a deep kinship with miners and their families. Her two grandfathers were miners in West Virginia, where she grew up outside Charleston. One was an organizer in the 1920s and ’30s for the United Mine Workers of America. When she heard the news Monday, she said she felt “an unexplainable grief for people I’ve never met that’s with me all the time.”

That feeling, during the Sago Mine disaster in 2006, inspired her 2008 album “Coal.”

Mattea was 9 when an explosion in Farmington, West Virginia, in 1968 killed 78 miners, including an uncle of the state’s current governor. She remembers “the pall over our household, how all the oxygen got sucked out of the place.” That moment is what she always returns to when mine disasters strike.

She honors her coal mining history and the people still living that life in simple actions. She wishes others would, too.

“When we flip on a light switch, we’re part of the story,” said Mattea, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It was hot enough yesterday to turn on the AC. And I thought, because I’m doing this, I’m directly linked to what’s happening there. It felt different.”

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