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Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea was one of the most respected female country stars of her era, a commercially successful hitmaker who was able to bring elements of folk, bluegrass, gospel, and singer/songwriter intimacy to her music. Mattea was born in Cross Lane, WV, in 1959 and received classical voice training starting in junior high, but also took up the guitar when she discovered folk music. In 1976, while in college, she joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro and two years later dropped out of school to move to Nashville. She worked odd jobs and perfected her songwriting, and in 1983 she landed a deal with Mercury on the strength of her demo tape. Her self-titled debut was released in 1984, and the follow-up, From My Heart, appeared the following year; none of the singles from either record managed to breach the Top 20.

However, Mattea's third effort, 1986's folky Walk the Way the Wind Blows, proved to be her breakthrough both critically and commercially. Her cover of Nanci Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" was her first Top Five hit, and the record produced three other Top Tens in the title track, "Train of Memories," and "You're the Power." 1987's follow-up album, Untasted Honey, confirmed Mattea's newfound stardom, featuring two number one country hits in "Goin' Gone" and "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses"; "Untold Stories" and "Life as We Knew It" also made the Top Five. Released in 1989, Willow in the Wind boasted an even stronger folk influence, and it became her first album to go gold on the strength of the number one hits "Burnin' Old Memories" and "Come from the Heart," and the number two "She Came from Fort Worth." Additionally, the album's Top Ten hit "Where've You Been," co-written by her new husband, Jon Vezner, won her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal.

Seeking to keep her music fresh by returning to its roots, Mattea made several trips to Scotland in the early '90s, studying the links between country music and traditional Scottish folk. Her own music kept getting rootsier and more eclectic, as 1991's ambitious Time Passes By featured guest spots by Emmylou Harris, folkies the Roches, and Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean. The album's title track and "A Few Good Things Remain" both hit the Top Ten, but overall the album's singles didn't chart as well as was usual. She subsequently had throat surgery, but recovered fully to record 1992's Lonesome Standard Time, a less ambitious but still eclectic album whose title track was a near-Top Ten hit.

Mattea backed off her critically acclaimed recent sound for 1993's more commercial Walking Away a Winner, whose title track became yet another Top Five hit; however, the same year, she also issued the gospel-oriented Christmas record Good News, which won a Grammy for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Gospel Album. After a several-year hiatus, Mattea returned in 1997 with Love Travels, which balanced her folk and mainstream country leanings; it sold decently well, but failed to produce any major singles. Mattea subsequently moved to MCA for 2000's ballad-heavy The Innocent Years, a heartfelt tribute to her ailing father. Wanting to explore her taste for Celtic folk, Mattea hopped labels to Narada, for whom she debuted in 2002 with the eclectic Roses. The holiday album Joy for Christmas Day arrived in 2003, followed by Right Out of Nowhere in 2005. In 2008, Mattea released the bluegrass-centric Coal for the Captain Potato label. Mattea followed it with another collection of songs from mining country entitled Calling Me Home in 2012 for Sugar Hill. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

jimliz_fox
Saw her at Lakeside Ohio in 2011. Great show.
Her home town is actually Cross Lanes.I live about 8 mole away.
I have loved her voice and songs, but I did not realize how beautiful she is. This after years of listening. Old guys are often stupid.. Audio and visual delight.
Kathy was our keynote speaker at this year's Artworks conference in RIchmond. She had us all in tears and stitches on numerous occassions- I haven't publicly cried like that ever before- BRAVO! What an inspiration!
Where've You Been always makes me cry. It's such a beautiful song.
vintagegal19 4 0
Just saw and MET her last night in Stoughton WI. What an amazing talent and such a kind woman. Adore her!
746095452
w30 hurst olds gotta luv it 75
Love this song and the singer. So beautiful.
She is a great artist for certain. But she is also a great person. And has not forgotten where she came from and what got her where she is today. All of which are far more important. Good for her!
rbehlau
hoping pandora will play me Where've You Been... haven't heard that in a very long time...
I send the Lyrics of "Love Travels" to my sons in the Navy.It's my favorite of your songs, but I get a kick out of your "455 Rocket".
I Love your Music. Thanks for all the great songs!
duaneschroed t e r
Kathy and Dougie Maclean ROCK
boogiespeed
Kathy you are MARVELOUS!
homessoldbys h a r o n
Great Christmas Albums, espically her first.
I Like eightwheels and dozen roses
I love Eighteen wheels and a dozen roses it was the first song i learned by heart. i used to sing it on karoke with my aunt Brenda :)i love you Kathy!
Ashley
18 Wheels has great acoustic guitar works. KM is a great singer that happens to be so underrated singer.
Kathy is a very underrated recording artist. Her body of work is remarkably consistent. There's no "hot period". Her early work is just as accessable, listenable and compelling as later efforts. I don't know why she never reached the level of popularity of, say, Reba. She's every bit as good.
tedbujalski
....she sings that ' cosmic American music'....an d its just as good as it gets...
Just hearing of this artist for the first time. She's awesome!
teaspot4u
we saw her a few years ago in Lancaster, PA, and again last night at Long's Park in Lancaster. She's WONDERFUL! I can never get enough of her and her sense of humor.
morganmay14
I have been blessed to see KM perform in person a # of times and she is as good or better in person. Vocals and Music are perfection!
KM is one of my alltime favorite singers. Her resonant, compelling voice carries you along through the vivid imagery of her compositions and leaves you wanting more. Saw her in concert once, and she was great!
WHEN I WAS IN FIRST GRADE I SANG 18 WHEELS AND A DOZEN ROSES AND I'VE LOVED HER MUSIC EVER SINCE!
paulapent
I'd like to see Mattea's Good News CD included in the holiday selections. Thank you!
one of the best voices i have ever heard !!!!
Kathy is a very exceptional recording artist.
I would love to hear this artist on your chanels!!!!

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