Those attending the upcoming Kathy Mattea concert in Newton will be sitting in chairs in an auditorium at the Fox Theatre. However, the Grammy-winning vocalist said she hopes people will feel more like they're sitting in a "giant living room." Her goal is to create an intimate atmosphere where people can connect with the music and with each other.
"For me, it's really about stories and songs," she said. "... I love stories in songs and the way they reflect the human experience."
Mattea will be coming to the Fox Theatre in downtown Newton for two performances Sunday, Oct. 6, one at 4 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m.
Mattea performs acoustic-based country/folk music, with bluegrass, Appalachian and Celtic influences. She was twice named "Female Vocalist of the Year" by the Country Music Association.
Mattea discovered her love of singing at Girl Scout camp and began her pursuit of a musical career while in college at West Virginia University, where she co-founded the bluegrass band Pennsboro. In 1978, she quit school and moved to Nashville, where she worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and later as a waitress and demo singer. Mattea eventually landed a recording contract with Mercury Records, releasing her first single in 1983, followed by her self-titled debut album in early 1984.
Music has been Mattea's lifelong passion.
"When I'm doing music, I feel more alive than when I'm doing anything else," she said.
The advice she's tried to live by as an artist came from an early mentor: "If you choose good songs, everything else will take care of itself." Some of her best known songs include “Love at the Five and Dime"; “Goin' Gone"; “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses"; and “Where’ve You Been."
She said her goal is to connect with her audience, to create a sense of community where everyone responds to the same song in the same moment. Sometimes people will come up and tell her about how one of her songs touched them or reminded them of an experience in their own life.
"To me, that's really powerful," she said.
When she's not touring, her hobbies include cooking, spending time with friends, and hiking in the woods.
Although this will be her first time in Newton, she's been to Kansas before and is excited to return to the Sunflower State.
"I'm glad to be coming back," she said.
She said this is an exciting time in the country music industry, which has been increasing in popularity to the point country singers are now performing in sold-out stadiums. Though the tension between modern and traditional has always existed in country music, Mattea believes there's a place for a variety of styles. Some of her favorite up-and-coming artists are Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert.
"I'm really glad that people are connecting with music," she said. "... It's been fun to sit back and watch where it's going."
She said watching a concert should feel like a journey, and she hopes people in Newton will come on that journey with her.
"(I hope you) feel like you've been taken somewhere," she said.
Tickets are available for $32.50, $28.50 or $24.50 (reserved seating). To purchase tickets for the concert, visit www.selectaseat.com; call (855) 755-SEAT; or stop by South Dillons.
The ticket booth at the Fox will be open Saturday morning and during Taste of Newton (purchase tickets for Motown Sounds of Touch at this time, as well).