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Kathy Mattea stays true

Jeffrey Remz  |  January 22, 2012

Kathy Mattea could be taking the easy way out these days and just rest on her considerable laurels. After all, she hasn't been on the charts - let alone have a hit - since 2000 when the cute BFD hit the lower depths of the charts.

Mattea was one of those singers who did not quite fit in as she aged. The albums may have kept coming, but the hits didn't, and soon she was on her own label-wise. A lot of folks in her shoes would have then opted to play the casinos, where there's a lot of money to be made for musicians, play the hits and move on.

Mattea apparently decided she's not going to travel that road. Her career resuscitated with the 2008 release of "Coal," a disc focused on the coal industry. Mattea, 53, is from West Virginia. Some in her family even worked in the coal mines but that was not really part and parcel of Mattea's knowledge base since that was before she was born.

But with the help of the songs on "Coal," Mattea educated herself about the past and drew closer to her home state. She garnered deservedly excellent reviews for "Coal" and has toured behind it since, including an excellent show Saturday in Cambridge, Mass.

Let's hope that there is some more genie magic in the bottle because she is recording another album due out this summer. Mattea, who continues to have a wonderful smoky alto, played a few songs from it at the show - Calling Me Home by Alice Gerrard and Jean Ritchie's West Virginia Mine Disaster. It sounds like Mattea is going to continue exploring her native state.

Mattea deserves a major shout out for doing what she wants and doing it her way. In a story in the Boston Globe over the weekend, Mattea talked on just that. She said - without knocking her - that she could have gone the Reba McEntire route, but that wasn't her thing.

If Mattea continues making music as excellent as "Coal," we will all benefit. Thank you Kathy Mattea for having the wherewithal and inner strength to continue pursuing your muse.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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