Kathy Mattea cares, and the music community cares for her.
That much became obvious as Country Weekly tagged along during her recent whirlwind travels between New York City and Nashville.
During a four-day New York blitz, Kathy continued to carry country music’s banner in the fight against AIDS—a cause she has cared about for years—and also found time to promote her new album, Walking Away a Winner.
Upon her return home, Mercury Records hosted a Music Row party in her honor, to celebrate the fast-rising Walking, her 10th album in as many years.
“I’ve had many hectic weeks, but this was a doozy,” she told Country Weekly. “I’m just excited about everything, and I just want to sit back and soak it all in.”
New York City was ready to soak up as much of Kathy as possible, as fans proved when they packed Central Park to see her benefit performance. As one New York fan said: “Kathy’s loved by the Broadway community, the AIDS awareness community, the fundraising community. She stands up for what she believes and just doesn’t give lip service, which is also rare.”
The Southern-style praise was just as warm.
“She makes us proud to be a friend and to be able to work with her at the record label,” said Luke Lewis, president of her label, Mercury Nashville.
It took just a few days for Kathy to cement her solid reputation in both cities.
In New York, 65,000 people participated in the AIDS Walk/New York, and most of them filed into Central Park for a post-Walk concert by Kathy and other performers.
“We need to have more compassion for these people because the people we’re losing are human beings—friends and lovers, sons and daughters, children and parents,” she said of the AIDS crisis.
While the day in the park left Kathy’s fans beaming, their favorite performer was just as excited about meeting them.
“That was so cool,” Kathy said on the limo ride back to the Novotel Hotel. “It was so neat to see people out there who were country music fans.”
Soon it was off to Roseland and the night’s benefit concert for still another AIDS-related charity, Broadway Cares. Kathy commanded the stage with a brilliant set that featured old hits and powerful songs off her new album.
The next day, Kathy was off to the Larry King radio show, where the host delivered the compliments, describing Kathy as a “terrific and brilliant country star.”
With the New York leg of her promo tour complete, Kathy returned to Nashville for a relaxing visit home—or so she thought!
Fellow stars, songwriters and industry officials joined Kathy’s parents, who were flown in from West Virginia, in a round of applause at the Music Row party as Kathy was surprised with a giant plaque, displaying the 10 albums in 10 years.
“The way Kathy carries herself and lives her life makes all of us turn it up a notch,” said Lewis, as he surveyed the crowd gathered at the partysite.
Addressing the songwriters in the crowd, who included her husband, Jon Vezner, Kathy said, “Thank you for your songs and for being my friend. All of your songs put together have been the greatest joy to me these 10 years.”
During those years Kathy has sold more than 5 million albums, a number that will soon climb higher with her new album Walking Away A Winner that drew this rave from Hollywood and Broadway legend Olympia Dukakis, when they met on the Larry King set:
“You’ve got that voice,” the movie star complimented the country music star.