After more than 30 years in the music industry, Kathy Mattea still takes one day at a time.
In fact, she’s slowly working on music for a new album – and she’s not in a rush.
“Things are good; I had a birthday yesterday,” she says during an interview on June 22. “I’ve had this creative surge in the last year. I’m feeling inspired and excited to see what is next.”
Mattea’s music is difficult to put into one genre. Known primarily as a country singer, she also dabbles in bluegrass, folk and Celtic music.
Over the course of her career, she’s charted more than 30 songs, including 12 in the top 10. “Goin’ Gone,” “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Comes From the Heart” and “Burnin’ Old Memories” reached No. 1.
Despite her success, Mattea didn’t write most of her biggest hits.
“I’m not primarily a songwriter,” she says. “I have written songs. I am more of a singer who sometimes writes. But I think the entire creative process, it’s interesting because it doesn’t change. I turned 58 yesterday, and my question to myself is, can I still trust myself? In music and just with decisions. It’s always a challenge.”
Mattea says thatwhen she was beginning and in her 20s, there was uncertainty. “I was always waiting for something to happen,” she says. “Now, it’s like, is it going to still happen? Are people going to enjoy what I still have to say? It’s been a while since I made a record, and it’s exciting.”
With three decades of music, Mattea challenges herself when putting together a set list. “I try to do some songs that are just album cuts,” she says. ‘I try to do the songs that really mean a lot to everybody. Then there are the songs that I think are companion songs, like the song ‘Love at the Five and Dime.’ I think of that as my favorite pair of blue jeans. It always just fits.”
Mattea has also been involved in social activism. In the early 1990s, she was one of the first country musicians to get involved with HIV/AIDS-related charities.
She’s become a public speaker and would like to involve a multimedia aspect in her show.
“I worked with Al Gore on the Inconvenient Truth project,” she says. “I’m curious about exploring more about this. I want to see how storytelling and music all fit together.”