Kathy Mattea Mines "Coal" Theme

This appeared on GACTV.com - March 10, 2008

"I have one addiction in my life," Kathy Mattea said last week, "and that's musicians."

She picked a stellar musician, Marty Stuart, to produce her new album Coal, which is set for release April 1. Marty was in the audience, along with Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith and 1990s hitmaker Lionel Cartwright, when Kathy showcased some of the material from the CD in a live concert at The Station Inn in Nashville.

Coal consists entirely of songs about mining, inspired by the Sago mine disaster of 2006 in West Virginia. Kathy grew up in the Mountain State and still remembers a similar disaster when she was just nine years old. Both her grandfathers were miners, and the Sago incident forced her to relive the childhood trauma.

ZWhen she decided to start the album, Kathy had doubts that she'd find 10 songs with a coal theme. Instead, she wandered into a dark subgenre of songs about people who put their lives on the line every day just to guarantee there's food on the table for their families. When it came time to record it, Kathy says she was "afraid I wasn't able to do these songs justice."

Her mini-concert put that thought to rest. In fact, if the album is as good as her performance was last week, Coal is likely a strong candidate for a Grammy nomination in the folk field come December.

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