West Virginia-born country singer Kathy Mattea has appeared on Mountain Stage 14 times since 1986. Her latest album, Coal, is a collection of mining songs. Both of Mattea's grandfathers were coalminers, and her mother worked for a mineworkers' union. Coal was nominated for Traditional Folk Album of the Year at the 2008 Grammy Awards. In this segment, recorded at the historic Keith-Albee Theater in downtown Huntington, W.Va., she performs songs from Coal, as well as her chart-topping 1988 country hit "18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses."
Three of the songs included here were written by Kentucky folksinger and dulcimer player Jean Ritchie: "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore," "Blue Diamond Mines" and a touching a cappella treatment of "Cool of the Day." Both "Coming of the Roads" and "Coal Tattoo" were written by fellow West Virginian Billy Edd Wheeler (who also wrote "The Gambler" and "Jackson").