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Mattea headlines NewSong Festival

August 24, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - With more than 14 studio records and another compilation album about to be released, Kathy Mattea says she is still learning as an artist.

"The struggle to add depth to your artistry ... is a lifelong process," says Mattea, who has had several top 10 hits and has won two Grammys and numerous other awards.

Mattea will share some of the lessons she's learned with students during the Mountain Stage NewSong Academy, which started Wednesday and ends Friday.

The NewSong Festival, which showcases performing songwriters, is Friday through Sunday, and includes the NewSong Contest with finals on Saturday night.

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Mattea, along with other Academy faculty, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, in Shepherd University's Frank Center.

Mattea, 47, of Nashville, Tenn., has been doing more teaching in recent years, enjoying the leap someone can make with a small amount of information.

"For me, when I was young, there were a couple of pivotal moments when I got a chunk of truth that helped me, helped sort of refine my process and help me make a big leap at a young age," she says.

One of those moments came when she was 20, from a producer giving her feedback about her voice.

He told her she had a lovely voice, but he was hearing beautiful noise and feeling nothing. The producer was "talking about being centered in the song rather than the sound of your own voice," she explains.

Mattea describes her music as being influenced by folk, bluegrass, country, gospel, Celtic and blues. Her latest album, "Kathy Mattea, The Definitive Collection," will be released Aug. 29, after the festival.

Other performers during the festival include The Dreamsicles and Diana Jones, the first artist to release an album on the NewSong Recordings Label.

Jones, 41, of Nashville, was offered the new label opportunity after being a finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest two years ago and getting to know festival director Gar Ragland.

Having a label to handle the business side has allowed Jones to focus on the music.

Her latest album, "My Remembrance of You," which came out in March, has old-time Appalachian elements to it thanks to finding her birth family several years ago.

Jones says she tried to find something deeper in writing these songs following the 2001 death of her grandfather, musician Robert Lee Maranville, who as a young man played with guitarist Chet Atkins.

The personal connection she was able to forge with Maranville made the album a labor of love for her.

"A lot of times people write for the audience, but I wrote this record for myself. I'm glad the audience likes it, but I wrote it for myself," Jones says.

Jones will perform at 10:30 p.m. Friday on the second floor of the War Memorial Building; during the Artist Showcases at the War Memorial Building between 4 and 6 p.m. Saturday; and from 2:40 to 3:10 p.m. Sunday at Morgan's Grove Park.




If you go ...



WHAT: Mountain Stage NewSong Festival

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 27

WHERE: Shepherd University's Frank Center, War Memorial Building, Morgan's Grove Park, The Mecklenburg Inn and Shepherdstown Opera House; Shepherdstown, W.Va., area.

COST: Tickets to Mountain Stage NewSong Academy Concert, 8 p.m. Friday, are $18 in advance, $20 at the door; Mountain Stage New-Song Contest Finals, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. NewSong in the Park at Morgan's Grove Park, 9:30 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Sunday, is $10. Ages 14 and younger get in free Saturday and Sunday. Festival weekend passes are $50. Call 800-594-TIXX (8499).

MORE: The festival includes various events at different venues. For a complete schedule and information about tickets, including festival passes, go to www.newsongfestival.com.

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