Kathy Mattea warms up a cold night

By SANDY JOHANSEN / Staff writer
Singing her signature numbers, she expanded,giving each number its history. The truck-driving song “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” was written by her Grammy-winning songwriter and husband John Vezner. They have shared this musically rich partnership for over two decades. Aren’t you happy for me, mom?” she told her mother as she left West Virginia in 1978. Mattea’s vocals were pitch perfect and her banter with the Woodlands audience was relaxed and personal.“I’m quitting college and leaving for Nashville. She divulged that during abrief hiatus in 2015, she took voice lessons to accomplish a full mellow sound and distinctive phrasing.“I found a voice teacher and I started kind of digging in and just really rededicated myself to just sort of keep my instrument maintained and get to know my voice again,” she said.The concert song collection she performed was as expected. She also performed her first major hit, “Love at the Five and Dime.”As it is the Christmas season, Mattea delighted the audience with a number from her 1993 Grammy album, “Good News,” by singing “Mary, Did You Know?” This particular number has been recorded by Kenny Rogers with Wynonna Judd, as well as Reba McEntire.Mattea’s Woodlands selections were woven through blugrass, gospel and Celtic influences. “My mother said, ‘Yeah, right!’” And, as they say, the rest is history.Mattea said she had spent a lot of time with her guitar and her guitarist, Bill Cooley, going over songs and exploring all the movements, lyrics and undertones. A sold-out audience at the recent Kathy Mattea concert was not disappointed as she brought her best game, along with her longtime collaborator, guitarist Bill Cooley. The audience was invited to participate.Her heartrending “Where’ve You Been,” which Mattea’s husband co-wrote with singer-songwriter Don Henry, brought tears to some of her listeners. Her numbers also included those celebrating the Appalachian culture of her native West Virginia.Her concert in Hot Springs Village on her way back to Nashville was distinctive and extremely pleasurable, along with her gracious after-concert autograph session.“Mattea remains one of Nashville’s most spiritual singers, and the songs she sings about love, lost and humility are as fine as any she has recorded.” – USA Today. The duo’s instrumentals were perfection and it seemed their hearts were beating as one. That statement sincerely describes her impeccable concert here in HSV.