Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Music Road trip in West Virginia

West Virginia has a landscape that is at once both beautiful and heartbreaking. Beautiful, for the mountains, the forests, the rivers, heartbreaking because these days so much of that, and the balance of nature within them, and the lives of the people who call West Virginia home, is being lost to mountain top mining.

Two albums make a soundtrack for this duality. Still Moving Mountains -- The Journey Home finds artists, people who live in the mountains, and people who care about them, in a collection of music and short interviews explaining, illuminating, and getting at the heart of what is going on today in, as the classic song terms them, the green rolling hills of West Virginia.

Kathy Mattea is one of those who speaks out on Journey Home. Though her career as a Grammy wining country artist has taken her to Nashville, West Virginia is her home -- she grew with grandparents who worked in the mines, and heard the songs and learned the stories of miners’ life when she was young.

Her doorway into country music has always been through the folk and bluegrass side of things, but songs of the coalfields weren’t ones she felt she was called to do, or could do, until several years ago when a mountain mine disaster recalled to her how she felt facing such events growing up. So she decided to make an album, with some songs she’d known all her life, and some newer ones that speak to the lives of those who work the mines and live in the mountains. She called it Coal, and there’s more about her thoughts on the subject, and the music, here.

you may also wish to see
Mary Black and Emmylou Harris sing Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia
some years before the Coal project, Mattea wrote of her own feelings on leaving her home state in the song Leaving West Virginia
Music Road: Kathy Mattea: Coal
Kathy Mattea’s website she thought the Coal album was going to be a sort of side project for her. as it turned out, there was more.
Music Road: ten songs
to learn more of what the people are singing about in Still Moving Mountains. visit JourneyUpCoalRiver

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there. Stop on by to see what's on tap for West Virginia at A Traveler's Library, and for more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Anjuli said...

The journey home sounds wonderful. I will definitely want to get ahold of it.

2:53 AM  

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