Kathleen Alice "Kathy" Mattea (pronounced ma-TAY-a) (born June 21, 1959, South Charleston, West Virginia) is an American country music and bluegrass performer who often brings folk, Celtic and traditional country sounds to her music. Active since 1983 as a recording artist, she has recorded seventeen albums and has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. This total includes the number one hits "Goin' Gone", "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses", "Come From the Heart" and "Burnin' Old Memories", as well as twelve additional Top Ten singles.
Life & career:
Mattea was born in South Charleston, West Virginia because it had the nearest hospital to her parents' home in Cross Lanes, where she grew up, graduating from nearby Nitro High School. She discovered her love of singing at Girl Scout camp. In 1976, while attending West Virginia University, she joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro, and two years later dropped out of school to move to Nashville. She worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame, did backup vocal work for Bobby Goldsboro, and sang demos for several Nashville songwriters and publishers including Nashville songwriter/producer Byron Hill who brought her to the attention of Frank Jones (then head of Mercury Records), who signed her to her first record deal in 1983.
Mattea's third album, Walk the Way the Wind Blows (1986), proved to be her critical and commercial breakthrough, Her cover of Nanci Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" was her first major hit, reaching No. 3 (and in addition, earned Griffith notice as a songwriter), and the album produced three other top ten songs: "Walk the Way the Wind Blows" (#10), "You're the Power" (#5), and "Train of Memories" (#6). "Love at the Five and Dime" also drew attention because well-known country singer Don Williams sang harmony vocals on the track.
Further hit songs include her first No. 1, "Goin' Gone"; the truck-driving song "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" (1988); "Come From the Heart" and "Burnin' Old Memories" (both No. 1 hits in 1989); "She Came From Fort Worth" (1990); "Lonesome Standard Time" (1992); "Walking Away a Winner" (1994); "Nobody's Gonna Rain on Our Parade" (1994); "Maybe She's Human" (1994); and "455 Rocket" (1997, written by Gillian Welch). "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" in late May 1988, became the first single by a solo female to spend multiple weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart since Dolly Parton's "You're the Only One" in August 1979; both singles were on top of that chart for two weeks.
The heartrending "Where've You Been," which Mattea's husband Jon Vezner co-wrote with singer/songwriter Don Henry, reached No. 10 on the country chart and won her a 1990 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal. Mattea is a repeat winner of the County Music Associations Female Vocalist of the Year, which she won on the success of "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" and "Where've You Been". She won another Grammy in 1993 for her gospel-oriented Christmas album, Good News. Her first single from the album, "Mary, Did You Know?", went on to be covered by Kenny Rogers with Wynonna Judd, as well as Reba McEntire.
In 1994, Mattea collaborated with Suzy Bogguss, Alison Krauss, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to contribute "Teach Your Children" to the AIDS benefit album, "Red Hot + Country", produced by the Red Hot Organization. Also on that album, Mattea teamed up with Jackson Browne to contribute "Rock Me on the Water". Through the 1990s, she often collaborated with Scottish folksinger songwriter Dougie MacLean.
In 2000, released the ballad-heavy The Innocent Years, a heartfelt tribute to her ailing father. Wanting to explore her taste for Celtic folk, Mattea changed labels to Narada, for whom she debuted in 2002 with the eclectic Roses. Her 2008 release, Coal, combined her social activism with songs about coal-mining. It debuted at #64 on the country albums chart, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Traditional Folk category. Kathy Mattea was honored as a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame 2011 class of inductees.
Mattea has been heavily involved in HIV/AIDS-related charities, beginning in the early 1990s, and is often credited with being among the first to champion this cause among the country music community. She is the recipient of the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award, as well as the Harvard AIDS Institute Leadership Award.
She performed with Mary Chapin Carpenter on VH1's very first Save The Music concert, which also starred Bette Midler. In 1991, Mattea took part in Voices That Care, a multi-artist project that featured other top names in music for a one-off single to raise money for the allied troops in the Gulf War. The project included Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, and introduced Celine Dion to the American audience.
Academy of Country Music Awards
1988 Single of the Year - "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses",
1988 Song of the Year - "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses",
1989 Top Female Vocalist,
Country Music Association Awards
1988 Single of the Year "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses",
1989 Female Vocalist of the Year,
1990 Female Vocalist of the Year,
1997 Music Video of the Year "455 Rocket",
1991 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - "Where've You Been",
1994 Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album - Good News,
Academy of Country Music Awards:
1983 Top New Female Vocalist,
1987 Top Female Vocalist,
1988 Top Female Vocalist,
1989 Album of the Year - Willow in the Wind,
1997 Video of the Year - 455 Rocket,
American Music Awards:
1988 Favorite Country Single - Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,
1990 Favorite Country Female Artist,
1991 Favorite Country Female Artist,
Country Music Association:
1990 Entertainer of the Year,
1987 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - Love at the Five and Dime,
1990 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - Willow in the Wind,
1992 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - Time Passes By,
2009 Best Traditional Folk Album - Coal