Kathy Mattea discusses latest album Coal and issues that inspired it

By Mona Seghatoleslami

On Sunday night, Kathy Mattea will perform on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage as part of a tour to promote her new album. The album is titled Coal, and is a product of Mattea’s own recently-formed label, which she calls “Captain Potato Records.” 

Mattea: “If you say may name over and over again, and you say it faster and faster, and then somewhere in there you have a couple of beers, somewhere in there it will turn to Captain Potato. It’s been a running joke for years, now.”         

Mattea grew up in Cross Lanes in Kanawha County, and coal mining is part of her family history. That history and her increased interest in coal-mining issues are certainly reflected in Coal. So is the influence of other West Virginians, including songs she covers by acclaimed writers like Billy Edd Wheeler and Hazel Dickens. 

Mona Segatoleslami spoke to Mattea about these songs, her recent environmental activism, and the Sago tragedy that inspired Coal.

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2 Comments on “Kathy Mattea discusses latest album Coal and issues that inspired it”

  1. Janet Whitaker Says:

    Hi! I’m Janet Whitaker, assistant to Al Cross at the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, writing to let you know your story on “Coal” was excerpted in the 3/31/08 Rural Blog, our almost-daily digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism about rural America. To see your story and the rest of the blog, go to
    http://irjci.blogspot.com/2008/03/west-virginia-native-kathy-mattea.html

  2. Ridge Runner Says:

    If she does any of the songs as well as 18 wheels and a dozen roses it will be a hit. Patty Loveless has set the bar high for Never Leave Harlan Alive, I may be a little partial to Patty and biased because she is an East Kentucky girl. I like most of Mattea’s stuff and I would like to see her do some songs on Mountain Top Removal, that is a big W.Va and East Ky. issue. I just don’t know how commercial it would be for her. My father got killed in the mines about a week after the big mine disaster at Farmington W.Va. We lost over 300 miners in 68 and the numbers run high all the way back to the 20’s. Safety has somewhat improved but only because we mine so much of it above ground now. I hate MTR but I have mixed feelings about forcing the men back undergrounc again. Its a hard life, even when the money is good!


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