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Released October 13, 2003

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HATTIESBURG -- Two-time Grammy Award winner and multiple Academy of Country Music and Country Music Academy winner Kathy Mattea is making a ROSES tour stop at The University of Southern Mississippi Oct. 24 in Bennett Auditorium. Presented by Partner for the Arts as its headliner event of the 2003-2004 season, Mattea will bring her new style of "contemporary folk with a Celtic twist" to the stage.

Mattea's latest leg on her musical journey has led her to her new album, Roses, a mix of her powerfully tender voice with instruments like accordion, whistle, fiddles, mandolin, and even a pie pan. Many of the songs on her latest release, like the upbeat "I'm Alright," are favorite treasures that Mattea has wanted to record for some time.

Others, like "They Are The Roses," are stunning new finds. But in each case, the songs speak directly from Mattea's heart to her audiences. "I've always thought that if I can learn to listen to my heart and make music from there, everything else will take care of itself," Mattea explained in a published biography.

In 1986, Mattea, who left her native West Virginia for Nashville, Tenn., at 19, released her breakthrough album, Walk the Way the Wind Blows, which quickly established her as a fast-rising star.

"At the time I broke through, country music had narrowed so much," she recalled. "I was part of an influx of a kind of new breed, where the format opened up to a more rootsy sound in order to survive."

Hits from her first album brought a critically-acclaimed breath of fresh air to country music, along with other "left-of-center pioneers" like Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith, who wrote Mattea's first Top 10 hit "Love at the Five and Dime."

It was late 1987 when Mattea received her first No. 1 single, "Goin', Gone," and the next year brought the release of "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses," a song that won both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music's Single of the Year award. In 1989 and 1990, Mattea won an ACM and two CMA awards as Female Vocalist of the Year.

Also in 1990, Mattea scored her first Grammy Award-Best Female Country Vocal Performance-for a song co-written by her Grammy Award-winning songwriter/husband, Jon Vezner. To top off the year, her album Willow in the Wind became her first gold album.

Throughout the 90s, Mattea's successes continued with more singles, three gold albums, the platinum-selling A Collection of Hits, and a long-awaited Christmas album, Good News, that earned her a second Grammy Award in the Gospel category.

Mattea made a new friend, singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, while making several trips to Scotland during the early '90s, subsequently finding her new spiritual musical home in the process. Mattea began to change and looked for new outlets for her music.

"I always want to push myself creatively," Mattea said. "It's one thing to carve a niche for yourself, but quite another to keep searching for what moves you as an artist. To record another album exactly like all the others just wasn't making me wake up in the morning, rarin' to go."

Finding a creative freedom with a new record label, Narada, Mattea came to another landmark in her career with the making and release of Roses. And, as a believer in strong messages, she is able to connect better with her fans.

"I want to make a record that moves me," Mattea said. "It's amazing at concerts to hear fans come up to me afterwards and say 'that happened to me,' or 'I know exactly how that felt.' If I can make that connection with my audience, I've done what I set out to do."

Interacting with her fans on a personal level makes it a family affair for the country star and her legion of followers. The ROSES tour takes her to performing arts centers like the one at Southern Miss and to theaters around the United States.

"These places are my favorite kinds of rooms," she said. "The audience can hear every word, and I can hear them when they talk back to me."

When it's all said and done, the themes of life's victories and spiritual struggles run deep through Mattea's music. Her message on Roses to all her fans is to "treasure the moment and enjoy the journey, wherever it may take us."

Joining Partners for the Arts in presenting the ROSES tour stop is Coca-Cola and B95 Pine Belt Country (WBBN-FM), with support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Southern Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Partners for the Arts is an alliance between the community and the arts at Southern Miss since 1997. James McKenzie of Hattiesburg is the 2003-04 president of the advisory board for the organization whose mission is supporting and enhancing arts in the area; promoting arts education for all ages and expanding access to regional, national and international arts events and artists.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $40, $24, and $15 and may be purchased at the Southern Miss Ticket Office. Call (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425 or order online at



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April 20, 2004 4:48 PM