Kathy Mattea, full name Kathleen Alice Mattea (born June 21, 1959 in South Charleston, West Virginia), is a female country music and bluegrass performer who often brings celtic sounds to her music, particularly with her release of Love Travels, one of her most critically popular albums.
She was born in South Charleston because it had the nearest hospital to her parents' home in Cross Lanes, where she grew up, graduating from nearby Nitro High School. In 1976, while in college, she joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro, and two years later dropped out of school to move to Nashville. She worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and did backup vocal work for Bobby Goldsboro before she landed a deal with Mercury Records in 1983.
Mattea's third album, 1986's folky Walk the Way the Wind Blows, proved to be her breakthrough both critically and commercially. Her cover of Nanci Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" was her first hit (and in addition, earned Griffith notice as a songwriter), and the record produced three other top ten songs.