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About the video
Kathy Mattea, Roy Huskey Jr., Jerry Douglas and others perform "The Vacant
About the artist
Kathy Mattea was born in Cross Lane, W.V., on June 21, 1959. She received
classical voice training starting in junior high but also took up guitar when she
discovered folk music. In 1976, while in college at West Virginia University, she
joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro and two years later dropped out of school
to move to Nashville with her boyfriend.
She worked odd jobs and waited tables while honing her songwriting, and in
1983, she landed a deal with Mercury on the strength of her demo tape. Her
self-titled debut was released in 1984, and the follow-up From My Heart
appeared the following year. None of the singles from either record managed to
breach the Top 20. However, her third effort, 1986's folky Walk the Way the
Wind Blows, proved to be her critical and commercial breakthrough. Her cover of
Nanci Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" was her first Top 5 hit, and the
record produced three other Top 10 hits. Her 1987 album Untasted Honey
offered two No. 1 country hits, "Goin' Gone" and her signature hit, "Eighteen
Wheels and a Dozen Roses." The latter won the 1988 CMA for single of the year.
Mattea's 1989 album Willow in the Wind brought two more No. 1 hits, "Come
From the Heart" and "Burnin' Old Memories," as well as "She Came From Fort
Worth." She won a Grammy for another of the album's tracks, "Where've You
Been," and also captured the CMA's female vocalist trophies in 1989 and 1990.
Seeking to keep her music fresh by returning to its roots, Mattea made several
trips to Scotland in the early '90s, studying the links between country music and
traditional Scottish folk. Her own music kept getting rootsier and more eclectic,
as 1991's ambitious Time Passes By featured Emmylou Harris, the Roches and
Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean. The album's title track and "A Few
Good Things Remain" both hit the Top 10. She subsequently had throat surgery
but recovered fully to record 1992's Lonesome Standard Time. She attempted a
more commercial sound for 1993's Walking Away a Winner, whose title track
reached the Top 5. The same year, she also issued the gospel-oriented
Christmas record Good News, which won a Grammy.
After a hiatus, Mattea returned in 1997 with Love Travels, which balanced her
folk and mainstream country leanings, and she won a CMA award for her video,
"455 Rocket." In 2000, she released The Innocent Years, then moved to the
Narada label for the eclectic 2002 album Roses and the 2003 Christmas album
Joy for Christmas Day.