Longtime fans came out to see Grammy Award-winning folk singer and activist Kathy Mattea on Friday night at the Eisenhower Auditorium.
Mattea’s performance included an arrangement of longstanding favorites and songs from her recent album, “Calling Me Home.”
After her performance Mattea held a “talk back” and audience members had the opportunity to ask questions.
Dave Shaffer, assistant director for special programs at the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts, said Mattea supplements her exploration of Appalachian culture and music with a concern for environmental and social issues, including the coal industry.
“I think she has a great voice and she’s a wonderful performer but what really made the difference is the fact that she is such an articulate spokesperson and is so passionate for the cause that she has taken up,” Shaffer said.
Bruce Toth saw Mattea perform 19 years ago, before she had the angle of social issues to her music, and said he could do without it.
“I like that every song has a story of how she created it, what the song is about and where it comes from,” Juan Tao said.
Tao (graduate student-neuroscience) said she thought the way Mattea engaged with the audience allowed the spirit of her folk music to emerge.
“It really gave her perspective of having grown up in West Virginia,” Shaffer said.
Jody Whipple said she thinks Mattea is empathetic and the music triggers her to reflect about things in her own life.
“There’s a certain kind of beauty in the realism of these stories,” Mattea said at one point between songs during the show.