animated musical notesThanks for the Musicanimated musical notes
Country Music News for the Country Music Enthusiast

Celebrity Spotlight County Music News Association News

Celebrity Spotlight

Spotlight On
Kathy Mattea - Inducted Into The West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame
Photos by Glenda S. Paradee

The 2011 West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held on October 15, 2011 at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, West Virginia.

Kathy Mattea was inducted this year along with, Billy Cox, Connie Smith, Butch Miles, Diamond Teeth Mary, Jack Rollins and Tommy Thompson.

Tim O'Brien presented to Mattea and she accepted the award with a heartfelt speech thanking her management, family, and her fan club members that were in attendance.  Mattea then performed "West Virginia Mining Disaster" with Bill Cooley on guitar and Tim O'Brien on fiddle.  Mattea also performed during the finale singing "West Virginia, My Home".

Kathy Mattea had many of her fan club members, the Matteaheads, attend the ceremony.  They came from all over the country to see her being inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.  Mattea spent extra time after the show with her fan club members.

Kathy Mattea was born in South Charleston, West Virginia, because it had the nearest hospital to her parents' home in Cross Lanes, where she grew up, graduating from nearby Nitro High School. She discovered her love of singing at Girl Scout camp. In 1976, while attending West Virginia University, she joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro, and two years later dropped out of school to move to Nashville. She worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame, did backup vocal work for Bobby Goldsboro, and sang demos for several Nashville songwriters and publishers including Nashville songwriter/producer  Byron Hill who brought her to the attention of Frank Jones (then head of Mercury Records), who signed her to her first record deal in 1983.

Mattea's third album, 1986's folky Walk the Way the Wind Blows, proved to be her breakthrough both critically and commercially. Her cover of  Nanci Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" was her first major hit, reaching #3 (and in addition, earned Griffith notice as a songwriter), and the album produced three other top ten songs: "Walk the Way the Wind Blows" (#10), "You're the Power"(#5), and "Train of Memories" (#6). "Love at the Five and Dime" also drew attention because well-known country singer Don Williams sang harmony vocals on the track.

Further hit songs include her first #1, "Goin' Gone"; the truck-driving song "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" (1988); "Come From the Heart" and "Burnin' Old Memories" (both #1 hits in 1989); "She Came From Fort Worth" (1990); "Lonesome Standard Time" (1992); "Walking Away a Winner" (1994); "Nobody's Gonna Rain on Our Parade" (1994); "Maybe She's Human" (1994); and "455 Rocket" (1997, written by Gillian Welch). "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" in late May 1988, became the first single by a solo female to spend multiple weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart since Dolly Parton's " You're the Only One" in August 1979; both singles were on top of that chart for two weeks.

The heartrending "Where've You Been," which Mattea's husband Jon Vezner co-wrote with singer/songwriter Don Henry, reached #10 on the country chart and won her a 1990 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal. Mattea is a repeat winner of the County Music Associations Female Vocalist of the Year, which she won on the success of "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" and "Where've You Been."

Mattea won another Grammy in 1993 for her gospel-oriented Christmas album, Good News. Her first single from the album, "Mary Did You Know?," went on to be covered by Kenny Rogers with Wynonna Judd, as well as Reba McEntire.

In 1994, Mattea collaborated with Suzy Bogguss, Alison Krauss, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to contribute "Teach Your Children" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. Also on that album, Mattea teamed up with Jackson Browne to contribute "Rock Me on the Water". Also through the 90's, she often collaborated with Scottish folksinger songwriter Dougie MacLean.

In 2000, Mattea released the ballad-heavy The Innocent Years, a heartfelt tribute to her ailing father. Wanting to explore her taste for Celtic folk, Mattea hopped labels to Narada, for whom she debuted in 2002 with the eclectic Roses.

With her social activism and her taste for songs with introspective lyrics, it has been often said that Mattea owes as much to the traditions of folk music as mainstream country.

Her 2008 release, Coal, combined her social activism with songs about coal-mining. It debuted at #64 on the country albums chart.

Kathy Mattea enjoys strong support from a very active fan club, whose members refer to themselves as Matteaheads, and critical acclaim for her albums as she continues to tour and perform.

Kathy Mattea's latest CD was produced by Marty Stuart, the album is titled Coal, filled with songs about the life of the region's miners. Kathy was inspired to pursue the theme after the Sago Mine disaster of 2006, which hit all too close to home: She still recalls the Farmington Mine Disaster in 1968, a time when her grandfathers were miners and her mother worked for the union.

"When Sago happened, I got catapulted back to that moment in my life and thought, 'I need to do something with this emotion, and maybe this album is the place to channel it," she explains. "I knew the time was right."

In selecting songs for the project - the first released on her own label, Captain Potato Records - she specifically sought out material that would "speak to the sense of place and sense of attachment people have to each other and to the land."

Thanks For The Music Kathy!

Childhood home where Kathy Mattea grew up in Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Cross Lanes - Home of Kathy Mattea

Processing plant near Nitro

Nitro High School where Kathy Mattea went to high school

Kathy Mattea

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Director Michael Lipton with Kathy Mattea & Andrew Santee

Kathy Mattea with husband Jon Vezner

Marty Stuart, Connie Smith & Kathy Mattea

Connie Smith, Bob Brunner, Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea & Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares)

Ellie Manette (steel drum innovator) & Kathy Mattea

Tim O'Brien & Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea

Kathy singing "West Virginia Mining Disaster" with Tim O'Brien on fiddle and Bill Cooley on guitar

Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea

WVMHOF ceremony finale with a performance of "West Virginia, My Home"

Connie Smith, Kathy Mattea, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (America's Got Talent winner), and his wife Jennifer

Kathy Mattea, Connie Smith & Charlie McCoy

Tim O'Brien, Bill Cooley, Marc Dottore, Kathy Mattea, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart

Marc Dottore, Tim O'Brien, Bill Cooley, Kathy Mattea, Don London, Connie Smith

Bill Withers, Michael Lipton, Kathy Mattea, Jon Vezner & Billy Cox (longtime Jimi Hendrix bassist)

Kathy Mattea & Glenda S. Paradee (Thanks For The Music)

Kathy Mattea and fan club members, the Matteaheads, who flew in from all over the country to attend the induction ceremony

Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea


More on the 2011 West Virginia Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Prior to the induction ceremony, there was a special reception at the West Virginia Governor's Mansion with the inductees and the West Virginia Hall of Fame Board of Directors and special friends.

After the reception everyone moved over to the Culture Center Theater.

Actor Peter Marshall, a Huntington native, hosted the induction ceremony along with Director Morgan Spurlock.

The program started out with a welcome by Adam Harris and also an introduction by Michael Lipton.

Opening song was "Up Above My Head" with Turley Richards with Moll O'Brien and the WVMHOF house band.

They played a special video tribute to Butch Miles from Bill Cosby.  David Hartmen then presented to inductee Butch Miles.  They then had a performance of "I'm Leavin'" with Butch Miles on drums with Bob Thompson, John Inghram, Chris Tanzey, Doug payne, Austin Seybert.

Col. Bruce Hampton presented to Blaine Waide for inductee "Diamond Teeth" Mary McClain.  "Down by the Riverside" was performed by Col Bruce Hampton & house band with Molly O'Brien.

Janie Hendrix presented to inductee Billy Cox and then they did a performance of "Rockin' and Rollin' On/Voodoo Chile" with Billy Cox, Byron Bordeaux, Vincent Fults and Gary Skipper.

Larry Groce presented to Jim Buscmeyer for inductee Jack Rollins and then they did a performance of "Frosty the Snowman" with Larry Groce and Mollie O'Brien & house band; "Smokey the Bear" with Champ Zumbrun and Keith Zumbrun.

Another performance was "I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow" with Charlie McCoy & house band.

Next the Spirit Award was presented by Bill Withers to Ellie Manette.  Then a performance of "Little Girl" by Ellie Manette and Kaethe George.

Next performance was "I Really Don't Want to Know" by Peter Marshall & house band.

Tim O'Brien presented to inductee Kathy Mattea.  They then performed "West Virginia Mining Disaster" by Kathy Mattea, Bill Cooley & Tim O'Brien.

Bland Simpson presented to Jessica Eustice & Tom Thompson for inductee Tommy Thompson with a performance of "Boatman" by The Red Clay Ramblers.

They played a Dolly Parton taped video tribute to Connie Smith and then Marty Stuart presented to inductee Connie Smith. They then did a performance of "The Storms Are On The Ocean" with Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Everett Lilly, Tim O'Brien and Wayne Moss.

For the finale, all the performers & inductees got onstage and sang "West Virginia, My Home".

It was a wonderful night with lots of laughs, tears, and great music.

Here is more on all of the 2011 inductees:

"Diamond Teeth" Mary McClain, Huntington (Cabell County)
Mary Smith McClain, known through her career as "Walking Mary" and later "Diamond Teeth Mary," was a blues singer and entertainer. The sister of legendary singer Bessie Smith, she spent the 1920s and 1930s performing in a variety of medicine and minstrel shows. She toured with the USO and sang at the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, and at the White House, where her show-stopping charisma received standing ovations. She shared bills from Boston to Miami with her sister Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Big Mama Thornton, Ray Charles, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Levon Helms mentions seeing her perform at a medicine show in the 1940s in his biography, and refers to her as "The Lady with the Million Dollar Smile" in The Band song "W.S. Walcott's Medicine Show." She continued to perform until her death at the age of 97, appearing at blues festivals with the likes of Derek Trucks, Robert Cray, and Jeff Healey.

Walter E. "Jack" Rollins, Keyser (Mineral)
Along with his writing partner Steve Nelson, Rollins wrote two of the most popular children's songs of all time, "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" and "Frosty the Snowman." Rollins also wrote "Smokey the Bear" for the public-service mascot Smokey Bear, and co-wrote many country songs including the No. 1 hit "I Don't Hurt Anymore" for Hank Snow and "A Prison Without Walls," a Top 10 hit for Eddy Arnold. His songs have been recorded by artists including Fred Astaire, Martina McBride, Dinah Washington, Henry Mancini, The Carpenters, Nat King Cole, Gene Autry, Rosemary Clooney, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Kenny G and '08 WVMHoF inductee Frankie Yankovic.

Tommy Thompson, St. Albans (Kanawha)
After a stint as a Coast Guard officer in New Orleans where he heard many of the great old time jazz players and was introduced to Cajun music, Thompson entered the graduate program in Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963. He divided his time between five-string banjo and academia. In 1966, he formed the Hollow Rock String Band which became a seminal force in the folk revival of that time. After Hollow Rock dissolved, Thompson continued to perform locally and at fiddlers' conventions, including the prestigious gathering at Union Grove, NC, where he took first prize in the World Champion Old Time Banjo contest in 1971. That same year, he co-founded the original Red Clay Ramblers, which he anchored for 22 years during which the band toured North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa doing four U.S. State Department tours. In 1974, the Ramblers began its long involvement with American musical theatre, writing and performing a number of off-Broadway plays. The Ramblers' music was also featured on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," in Sam Shepard's film "Far North," and on TV shows including "Northern Exposure" and "Ryan's Hope." Thompson also wrote and performed an acclaimed one-man show about American blackface minstrelsy, "The Last Song of John Proffit." In 1995, the North Carolina Folklore Society honored Thompson with its coveted Brown-Hudson Folklore Award and the Orange County, NC, Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in his honor.

Billy Cox, Wheeling (Ohio)
Although Noel Redding is the better known of Jimi Hendrix's two bassists, Billy Cox knew - and played with Hendrix - longer. As a member of the King Kasuals, the two traveled the fabled "Chitlin' Circuit." After Hendrix relocated to New York City - where he was discovered by ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler - and plans were made for him to put a band together in England, he asked Cox to go along. Cox declined and continued to back R&B acts passing through the area. When the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in mid-1969, Hendrix called Cox and they went on to play Woodstock (as "Gypsys, Suns, and Rainbows") and record. Cox also played a series of legendary shows with Hendrix and the late Buddy Miles as the "Band of Gypsys." After Hendrix's death, Cox played for a time with the Charlie Daniels Band. Following that he continued to do sessions and club dates including some legendary performances of Hendrix tunes with Stevie Ray Vaughan. More recently, Cox reunited with Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Gary Serkin and performed a series of shows under the name "Gypsy Sun Experience." Recognizing his contribution to rock music, the Cort Company released the Billy Cox "Freedom" model bass.

Kathy Mattea, Cross Lanes (Kanawha)
In the mid- to late-'80s, Kathy Mattea was one of the most respected female country stars and a successful hit maker who brought elements of folk, bluegrass, gospel, and singer/songwriter intimacy to her music. In 1976, while attending WVU, Mattea joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro. Two years later, she dropped out of school and moved to Nashville. She landed a deal with Mercury Records in 1983 but it wasn't until her third effort, 1986's "Walk the Way the Wind Blows," that she broke through critically and commercially. Her 1989 album, "Willow in the Wind," became her first gold record on the strength of the No. 1 hits "Burnin' Old Memories" and "Come From the Heart," and the No. 2 "She Came From Fort Worth." In addition, the album's Top Ten "Where've You Been," co-written by Mattea's husband Jon Vezner and Don Henry, won a Grammy for "Best Female Country Vocal." In the early '90s, Mattea predated many of her peers when she made several trips to Scotland to study the links between country music and traditional Scottish folk. The 1993 gospel-oriented Christmas record "Good News" won a Grammy for "Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Gospel Album." In 2008, Mattea released a CD titled "Coal," and took a controversial stand on mountaintop removal. Mattea remains one of WV's most revered musicians.

Charles J. "Butch" Miles, Hinton (Summers)
Technically, Butch Miles was born in Ironton, OH, while his mother was visiting relatives in Russell, KY, over the Fourth of July holidays. However, his mother quickly returned to Hinton where Butch was raised. A top-shelf jazz/big band drummer for decades, Miles' resume includes playing with luminaries ranging from Count Basie (he was an integral part of the band for many years), Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dave Brubeck and Mel Torme to Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Zubin Mehta and Itzhak Perlman. Miles conducts jazz clinics at universities and high schools, continues to record and plays frequently at jazz festivals around the globe. Miles is both a skilled technician and a fiery player whose solos are nothing short of spectacular.

Connie Smith. Born in Elkhart, IN, grew up in Hinton (Summers)
A country singer and Grand Ole Opry member, Connie Smith may be best known for her 1964 hit "Once a Day" - written especially for her by country star Bill Anderson - which spent eight weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Country music charts, the longest of any female country music artist in history. Often compared to Patsy Cline, she is still considered by many to be one of the best and most underrated vocalists in country history. Her string of hits continued until late 1968 with "Then and Only Then," "If I Talk to Him," "Ain't Had No Lovin'," and "The Hurtin's All Over." After working non-stop on the road, in films, and on The Lawrence Welk Show, Smith changed courses, devoting herself to family and religion. Subsequent hits included "You and Your Sweet Love," "I Never Once Stopped Loving You," "Just One Time," "Just What I Am," "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)," and "Love is the Look You're Looking For." She is currently putting the finishing touches on a new album to be released in 2011. The project, recorded at historic RCA Studio B, was produced by Smith's husband Marty Stuart and is expected out in August 2011 to celebrate her 70th Birthday. Smith continues to perform with the Grand Ole Opry and remains a country icon.

The mission of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is to recognize, document and preserve those contributions and to remind and educate the people of West Virgina and beyond of these important artists.

For more information about the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, go to

Thanks For The Music!


Celebrity SpotlightCounty Music NewsAssociation News
copyright Thanks for the Music, 1997-1999