RIPLEY, W.Va. — Kanawha County native and country music star Kathy Mattea urged Jackson County high school students to pursue their dreams during a visit to Ripley High School Tuesday afternoon.

The award-winning Mattea appeared very relaxed as she answered questions from Ripley and Ravenswood high schools. She talked about growing up in Cross Lanes and enrolling at West Virginia University after high school only to leave Morgantown in search of her country music dream.

She said that first six-months to a year in Nashville were probably the loneliest time in her life.

“I would call my mother on the phone and she’d say hello and I would say hello and I’d be crying and she would hangĀ up on me. She was like, ‘You took responsibility for this and you’re going to have to find your way through it.’ That was hard but I’m glad she did that.”

Mattea said she finally got over her loneliness when she found fellow musicians going in the same direction.

“It took me a long time to find people that understood how it felt to leave your whole life behind and go towards your dream,” she said.

She was asked about her most memorable performance and she said it was the year she headlined the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta.

“There were about 150,000 people there. The (Kanawha) river was full of boats. There were people on the other side of the river. There were people on the Southside Bridge and people hanging out of the windows of the hotel looking down on the Boulevard,” Mattea remembered. “Having that kind of reception from the place you are from—-it was probably the moment that means the most to me. I felt so loved and appreciated by my hometown and I felt that I got to give something back to them too.”

Mattea, who was the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1989 and 1990, told the students the music industry has changed and it’s much more difficult to make it these days the way she did but she encouraged them to follow their dreams. Mattea said it takes a lot of hard work including the mastery of voice and instrument.

“You have to learn how to make that instrument make its sound and then you get to know that so well that you can forget it and listen to the music, play the music. But there is a point on the front end where you really have to have that discipline in order to free up what you can express later on,” she said.

Mattea sang a few songs Tuesday including the 1988 Single of the Year Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses and Mary Did You Know.

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  • Sue Phelps

    To the young people of Ripley: Your question and answer session was one of the most thoughtful and interesting that I've ever heard! Way to go... I've seen this presentation given all over the country, and no where else even compares. Kathy is an amazing talent and a wonderful woman. She shared music advice and life lessons learned. Wish I could have been there in person!

  • Sue Phelps

    One hit wonder? Fact: many top ten hits (twenty or so). Fact. Female Vocalist of the Year twice. Fact. A Grammy for each hand. Fact. Gold records. Fact: In the WV Music Hall of Fame. Fact. More industry awards than you can count. Fact: You are clueless.

  • Sue Phelps

    Larry, Larry, Larry. Your ignorance is showing. Coal did very well for Kathy. It was nominated for a Grammy, a fact that I'm sure is lost on you. Every review I saw in major publications raved about this CD. Try doing a little research before opening your pie hole.

  • Sue Phelps

    I usually don't feed trolls, but MoMoney, you are pathetic.Search Google Images for photos of Kathy....she's not now nor has she ever been overweight. Her presentation, made so memorable by the young people's questions, was awesome. She's intelligent, articulate, and fiercely loyal to WV. Your lame attempt to disrespect a wonderful person say much more about you than her. Get help.

  • Disgusted in the citizens

    I do apologize to you Mr. Larry Jerk. The album I was referencing was titled "Coal". I can personally attest to the fact that I know more than 3 people who have listened to both albums. If you have a curious bone in your body I beg of you to visit the link I will share and educate yourself. Read the review of Mr. Homer Hickam, unless you also think he is anti-coal. You are so brave as to comment on something in which you have no direct knowledge I challenge you to learn something new today. Maybe then you will quit popping your mouth off just for the sake of hearing your own voice. Again as stated before, people like you are what give WV a bad name. I shake my head and pray that someday, someone, will help you find peace in your soul.

  • Abella

    I think you all are funny.
    This photo does not really reflect the good hearted person that she is. She actually is quite small compared to most of us, in WV, including me in the weight area.

    She also is one who does not believe in a fake face.
    So she likely does not care if you know her music or not .
    She does seem to care about people in WV. The coal issue is really not her fight. She practices peace and love. I am sure if you met her in person , she would hug you first and hear your story.
    In fact, she would want some Krispy Creme Donuts , if it was a local business that she would be supporting.

    One thing about her is ,she is loyal to the state of WV.
    Love you all

  • Blue&Gold

    While briefly living out of State, I met Kathy Mattea and her band after a concert in 1986. I was far from home and even though she was a celebrity, it was a comfort to talk to someone from home. She was down to earth. I was so happy for her success and proud that such a great musician came from West Virginia. Beautiful lady, then and now!

  • RogerD

    If she were giving an anti-coal talk to the students, it would have been pertinent.

  • flaghorse

    I think she looks pretty amazing at 54. I have always admired her as an ambassador of WV. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs. It is a noble thing that she embraces her roots and wants to give something back to the youth.

  • Larry

    I agree, all I said was that she's anti-coal, but I do not go along with making fun of peoples looks or weight.

  • Moon

    I can't believe how mean y'all are. She is back home giving something back to young people and you are just mean. Shame on you guys.

    Thanks to her for sharing and coming back home to mentor young people.

  • Larry

    Are you serious? No, I have not listened to her album, I'll ask the 3 people who have if I want a review of it.

  • MoMoney

    Anti-coal activists don't age very gracefully. She and actress Daryl Hannah look like old hags today. Kathy needs to give the What Not To Wear folks a call and help her out with her tired wardrobe.

  • Disgusted in the citizens

    Get over yourself. She had more than 1 hit. Check your facts before you post. YOU, are what gives WV a bad name. If you knew anything and watching something other than the XBOX games on your television and the porn on the computer, then you would know she never left the music industry. The industry went in a different direction catering to country/pop women that appeal to stupid pimple faced dorks like yourself. Ask anyone who knows anything about Nashville and country music and they will tell you loads about Kathy. Grow up and go comment on a story that fits your category.

  • Disgusted in the citizens

    She is anti-strip mining. Get your facts straight. That doesn't mean she is anti-coal. Have you even listened to her latest album?

  • David


  • rick

    Evidently most of you must be pretty young to not know who this lady is. She has had many hit records over the years. She has been and continues to be a great ambassador for West Virginia.

  • Spell Checker

    On the contrary she is not "anti-coal". Ms. Mattea merely believes that we must take care of this world for future generations, a position worthy of respect.

    We would all do well to remember that God gave us one mouth and two ears. I believe He was trying to tell us something when He did that.

    You can't fault someone who stands up for their beliefs--even if those beliefs mean being a good steward of Creation rather than subjecting it to abuse.

    Respectful, reasoned debate is gone from American society: from Washington, D.C. down to this website insults, crude, and destructive comments now reign.

    Thank you Sharon for your constructive post.

  • wvtd

    who is she? a old one hit wonder trying to regain the spotlight. how is the music career doing these days? maybe her and billy ray cyrus can do duets. yeeee haaaaaw.

  • Larry

    I wasn't picking a fight, just stating a fact.

  • Sharon

    To all of you who posted before me, why do you even bother to write when you cannot say any thing positive at all. First of all it makes you all look stupid. You most like do not know anything about Kathy Mattea I have known her for many years and yes, I am a fan of hers. She is a woman who is very smart and stands up for the things she believes in. She helps out many different causes. She also has a fantastic singing voice and great musical presents. I admire someone who can stand up to what they believe in and helping others, but for you people I would pay money just so I would not have to hear your jealous ugly comments.

  • KrispyKreme

    By the looks of that picture, it has been more so "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Donuts".
    Krispy Kremes for everybody.

  • C. F. T.

    Anti Coal has nothing to do with this article, why spoil it with politics? Sure I'm pro Coal and a ultra conservative activest, so Larry lets pick our fights at an more appropriate opportunity.

  • Larry

    She's anti-coal.

  • MoMoney

    She sure has gotten fat. I'd bet its "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Donuts" now.

    Kathy, give NutriSystem a call. They always need has-beens for commercials.