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Singer Kathy Mattea sings Appalachian Folk Songs, Country Hits February 1

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Singer Kathy Mattea sings Appalachian Folk Songs, Country Hits

Two-time Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Kathy Mattea makes her Center for the Performing Arts debut in a concert focused on music from her Appalachian folk music album Calling Me Home. The West Virginia native performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $40 for an adult, $19 for a University Park student and $31 for a person 18 and younger. Buy tickets online at or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 1-800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Calling Me Home, which features songs by Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens, Alice Gerrard, State College native Si Kahn and others, celebrates the folk music and culture of Appalachia. Mattea, whose passionate alto voice helped her collect 15 consecutive top-10 hits and four number-one singles on the country charts, has gathered songs of bravery, pride, joy and grief that speak of life in the world’s oldest mountains.

“In 11 well-chosen covers, West Virginia native Kathy Mattea sings eloquently about the complicated relationship between the people of Appalachia and the land they’ve long loved but also abused,” wrote an Associated Press critic. “It's a place where the roots are deep, and the scars are, too. Residents of the region have often sung about such things, but seldom better than Mattea does here. Her commanding alto gracefully bears the weighty subject matter, whether she’s singing about wildlife or the afterlife.”

Mattea’s Grammy-nominated 2008 release, Coal, was her first step toward discovering the vast trove of Appalachian music, much of it influenced by Celtic and English traditions.

“[Coal] changed the way I think about my own family story, the way I think about singing songs, and the way I was able to see how music can be used to help people remember history, and heal and communicate with each other,” Mattea said. “I mean, it was just amazing. It was like finding some new chunk of music that had been missing, and so I wanted to make this record (Calling Me Home) as a deepening of that exploration.”

Mattea’s Feb. 1 concert also includes her radio hits, such as “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Goin’ Gone” and the Grammy-winning “Where’ve You Been?”

BIG FROGGY 101 is the event’s media sponsor. Artistic Viewpoints is not offered before the concert, but a discussion among Mattea and interested audience members follows the performance.