Posts Tagged ‘Marty Stuart’

A Conversation with Kathy Mattea

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

matteaKathy Mattea has long been a favorite for both the writers and readers of Country Universe. Earlier today, we had a chance to speak with Mattea about her current album, Coal, and covered many other topics along the way.

Coyne: I see Coal as the culmination of what you’ve been doing musically, which has always been introspective and focuses on the bigger issues of life. But you’ve also always done a lot of public work for social justice, especially with AIDS and the environment. It seems like it all came together on one album this time around.

Mattea: It’s been an evolving thing. It wasn’t intentionally that way. Interestingly, it came to me to do the album because of the Sago mine disaster.  I had just been torn up by it. My grandfathers were coal miners, and my mom worked for the United Coal Miners and my brother used to work for the coal industry, and I was just so emotionally torn up by that event.

I was asked to sing on Larry King Live on the day of the funerals to close the show. A bunch of musicians came down to work for free, just because there were so moved by the event.  And I thought, “This is a great thing. This is what music is for. I’ll make a record of this story. I’ll go back to the songs and make a record about coal mining.”

That was really my only thought about it, and the journey took me to a place that I could not see on the front end. It threaded together family stories. It led me to people who taught me about mountain top removal, which is a form of strip mining that’s going on in Appalachia right now. It also put me in touch with people so I could see that a lot of these stories are ongoing. A lot of these songs are very much the same today as what was going on in the coal fields forty years ago, sixty years ago, and longer.

You had said a few years ago that you’re now in this period of your career where you’re checking off the list. You wanted to make an acoustic album, which was Right Out of Nowhere, and the Celtic album Roses, and you made another Christmas album and now this coal mining album. What’s next on the list? Have you decided yet?

I have decided, but it’s just coming into focus, so if I tell you now, the thing will evolve in another six months so that it won’t be relevant to what I say . You have a jumping off point, but it always turns out to take you places that you don’t expect. I am starting to look around for songs for the next record, and it’s definitely a roots record.

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An Interview with Marty Stuart

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

collin_raye1Widely acclaimed as one of country music’s greatest warriors, Marty Stuart turned a childhood obsession into a lifelong career filled with hit records and collaborations with numerous Nashville legends.  A member of the Country Music Foundation and the Grand Ole Opry, he’s preserved the traditions of the genre by assembling a collection of country-related artifacts that has no rival. His most recent project is The Marty Stuart Show, a weekly television program airing Saturday nights on RFD-TV. Stuart discusses the development of the show, his thoughts on the future of country music and his role in honoring its past.

What was the single driving force behind creating The Marty Stuart Show? What are your hopes for the future of the program?

The most important thing was the right setting, the channel, RFD (a Nashville-based television station focused on rural America programming). I’m a big fan of the network and I’ve watched it grow. As a country music fan, I loved those old syndicated shows—The Porter Wagoner Show, The Johnny Cash Show, The Flatt & Scruggs Show, The Wilburn Brothers Show. I loved the spirit of those shows and started talking to Patrick (Carr, Stuart’s biographer) and really wanted to develop this idea. There was nothing like it on television at the time. Traditional country has so few outlets now. I wanted to give it a voice and show the integrity and entertainment value. You know, you have your Kenny Chesneys and Taylor Swifts, and they’re great for the genre, but this is the absolute other end of the country universe, the real traditional stuff. I’m just trying to present country music as a part of American culture, our heritage.

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Kathy Mattea, Coal; Del McCoury, Moneyland

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Kathy Mattea
Coal

Del McCoury
Moneyland

The everyday experience of America’s working poor was once a cornerstone of country music. As recently as the economic downturn of the early nineties, their voices were being heard on country radio, with Travis Tritt singing “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man” and Sawyer Brown documenting the plight of the farmer with “Café on the Corner.”

Today, the voice of working Americans struggling to get by has all but disappeared from the landscape of mainstream country music, and is yet another thread of the genre’s history that has been relegated to the Americana landscape. Two of the year’s best albums share this theme, telling the story of the working poor with distinctively different but equally compelling approaches.

Kathy Mattea has long incorporated themes of social justice into her work, and her environmental activism neatly dovetails with her aural chronicling of her family’s roots in West Virginia coal mining. Mattea had long contemplated doing an album of traditional songs that dealt with the coal miner’s experience, and the mine disasters and mountain stripping of recent years served as her motivation for her newest project. Produced by Marty Stuart, Coal tells the story of the poor working coal miner.

Mattea has collected songs of great historical significance, and the album functions as well as a historical document as it does a cohesive piece of music. It’s an album completely devoid of active preaching, Mattea takes the voice of the coal miners and their families on various songs, correctly trusting that simply allowing them to tell their stories will make the case for her.

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100 Greatest Women, #24: Connie Smith

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

100 Greatest Women

#24

Connie Smith

“There’s really only three female singers in the world: Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are just pretending.” – Dolly Parton

Connie Smith was born in Indiana, but she grew up in West Virginia, where she first began singing publicly. She later moved to Ohio, and though she was soon a housewife and mother, she still sang in her spare time. She performed on local television shows, and when she won a talent contest in 1963, she was discovered by Bill Anderson. He quickly arranged for her to be signed to RCA Records, and wrote a song especially for her called “Once a Day.”

When that record was released in the summer of 1964, she was an overnight success. The song spent an astonishing eight weeks at #1, and it still holds the record for the longest run at the top by a female artist. It launched her into stardom, and Smith became one of the most popular female acts of the decade. She scored three #1 albums, topping the charts with Connie Smith, Cute ‘N’ Country and Born to Sing. Another album released during the same time frame, Miss Smith Goes to Nashville, spent many weeks at No. 2.

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100 Greatest Women, #27: Kathy Mattea

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

100 Greatest Women

#27

Kathy Mattea

She was a gifted child who had been skipped a grade, who then dropped out of college and followed her songwriting boyfriend to Nashville. He had given up his dream before a year was through, but Kathy Mattea stuck around, laying the foundations for a career that has already spanned twenty-five years.

Mattea was born in West Virginia, the daughter of a man who was the first in his family to find work outside the coal mines. She started singing in Girl Scout camp, and developed a love for folk music. Only seventeen when she began her studies at West Virginia University , she joined a bluegrass band called Pennsboro. The band leader and principal songwriter wanted to try his luck in Nashville, and Mattea made the bold decision to drop out of college and follow him to Music City.

Only nineteen when she arrived, Tennessee law prohibited her from serving alcohol. This made a waitressing job impossible. She got in touch with the only West Virginia native she knew in town, and he told her that the Country Music Hall of Fame was hiring tour guides. Her outgoing personality landed her the minimum-wage job, and provided her formal introduction to the world of country music.

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Billy Joe Shaver featuring Marty Stuart, “Winning Again”

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Ever wonder what the Benny Hill music might sound like if it was twanged up from here to hog heaven? I do believe it would resemble the relentlessly addictive hillbilly jam that backs “Winning Again,” an unsurprisingly solid collaboration between two veterans with cred to spare.

Religious songs always sound better when they’re more tent revival than suburban Sunday service. Burning with the fire of the newly converted, the joy of praise radiates from start to finish.

Grade: A

Listen: Winning Again

Buy: Winning Again

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