On this West Virginia Morning, Willie Carver was Kentucky’s teacher of the year in 2021, but as a gay man, he and some of his students were harassed. So, in 2022, he resigned from Montgomery County High School. Last summer, he released Gay Poems for Red States. The book earned praise and helped turn Carver into a much-followed, outspoken voice on social media. Bill Lynch caught up with Carver.
On September 7th, CMA Award-winning vocalist Kathy Mattea will release Pretty Bird, her first new album in six years. A sublime acoustic collection including a number of smartly chosen and heartfelt covers, the record marks something of a new era in Mattea’s 30-plus-year career. Over the past several years her deep, rich singing voice has experienced significant changes that could have put a permanent end to her performing, but after extensive vocal training she has emerged from what she refers to as her “dark night of the soul” with a duskier instrument. That newly trained but still memorable voice, which gave country fans such hits as “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and “Love at the Five and Dime,” is at the very heart of one of the year’s most affecting LPs.
“This album has led me, slowly and unexpectedly, into new nooks and crannies of singing,” Mattea tells Rolling Stone Country. “Songs showed up in random ways… and became part of our musical landscape during regular Thursday jam sessions in my living room. It’s a very eclectic collection, and for me, each song has a very specific reason for being here, showing me some new point of view about singing along the way.”
One of country music’s most successful artists of the past several decades, Mattea, a two-time Grammy winner, has always approached her material, even the most mainstream country, with an eclecticism and sense of deeper meaning. Those elements are vibrantly evident on “I Can’t Stand Up Alone,” the first track to premiere from the upcoming collection, which was produced by Mattea’s longtime friend and frequent collaborator Tim O’Brien. Written by country-gospel legend Martha Carson in the Fifties, Mattea’s soulful version is a sparkling mélange of those genres, with touches of blues and Appalachian mountain music. The uplifting tune serves as a fitting tribute to singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, who died in 2014, and whose version inspired this one.
Mattea and her longtime accompaniest, guitarist Bill Cooley, will preview material from the upcoming release when the duo performs on Mountain Stage as part of the closing concert of the 2018 Augusta Heritage Festival. Tickets are availble online. Click here for details.
The August 11 episode will feature another guest-host, when storyteller and humorist Bil Lepp steps to the host’s microphone. Also appearing on the line-up in Elkins are award-winning bluegrass group Darin & Brooke Aldridge and traditional music expert and frequent Augusta Heritage instructor Joe Newberry, West Virginia honky tonk and country group Blue Yonder. The show will be broadcast nationally later this fall via NPR Music.
Amy Ray returns to Mountain Stage on this week’s encore broadcast, along with her band, New York trio The Lone Bellow, progressive banjo player Alison Brown, slide guitar master and banjo champion Tony Furtado, and Nova Scotia folk group Villages. This episode was recorded at the People's Bank Theatre in Marietta, Ohio with guest host Larry Groce.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s News Department has secured 11 nominations in eight categories in the 2023 Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters annual awards competition. This competition includes the best radio and television stations in both West Virginia and Virginia.
Brandon Maynard, a special education teacher at Cabell Midland High School, earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Above and Beyond Award for November, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.