US miners and singer Kathy Mattea

This video from the USA is called Kathy Mattea sings Coal Tattoo @ Joes Pub in NYC.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The soul of Coal

(Tuesday 20 January 2009)

Interview: Folk musician KATHY MATTEA

KATHY MATTEA explains to MIKE NEWMAN why her mining town heritage lies at the heart of her songwriting.

It’s often the case that people reaping some success in the music industry turn their backs on where they came from, the fame and the financial rewards conspiring to make them forget their roots.

But it was quite the reverse for double Grammy award-winning country music superstar Kathy Mattea, who drew deeply on her mining heritage to bring out her latest album Coal.

Mattea was born and brought up in West Viriginia. As both grandfathers were miners and her parents grew up in coal camps, mining was in her blood. Her mother worked for the United Mine Workers of America.

Mattea has found great success as a country music singer, but the Sago Mine disaster in 2006 brought her full circle back to the mining community that she came from.

At the funeral of the 12 miners who died at Sago, she was asked by news broadcaster CNN which covered the sad event to finish its coverage with a song.

Since she was 19 years old, Mattea had been collecting mining songs and, while looking through her collection to choose a song that would do justice to the 12 miners and their families, it became apparent that there were enough songs to make an album. So Coal was born.

Mattea and her acoustic band are making a welcome visit to Britain and I managed to talk to her just before she left the US for the start of the tour. I wonder how important Coal was in relation to her many other releases. “I can say that it’s unprecedented in lots of ways,” she says.

The WSWS recently interviewed Ruth White, whose book Little Audrey deals with 1948 life in the coal town of Jewell Valley, Virginia: here.

Worldwide, thousands of workers die every year from mining accidents, and instantaneous coal outbursts in underground mines are among the major killers. But although scientists have been investigating coal outbursts for more than 150 years, the precise mechanism is still unknown: here.

50 years ago: UMW head John L. Lewis resigns: here.

Over 2,500 striking coal miners picketed against strikebreakers outside of the Sprouse Creek Coal Company in West Virginia on February 21, 1985. Police arrested 44 miners that day, bringing to 100 the number of strikers locked up: here.

2 thoughts on “US miners and singer Kathy Mattea

  1. I just bought Kathy Mattea’s new CD, ‘Coal’. It’s very good. She’s always shown a lot of respect for working people. Her big hit, ’18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses’, was a sweet and sentimental tribute to truck drivers that was not at all corny or patronizing. Bless her heart.


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