American Master Award Goes to Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea has been a powerhouse in the world of country and bluegrass for more than 30 years. Her award-winning albums have explored love, loss, and other essential human emotions through melodies and storytelling. On March 18, Berklee honored her with its American Master Award at a ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.

A prolific singer-songwriter whose iconic hits include “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Goin’ Gone,” “Come from the Heart,” and “Burnin’ Old Memories,” Mattea is a longtime friend of Berklee. She has visited campus several times to conduct workshops and master classes, taken part in the college’s annual industry trip to Nashville, performed with Berklee students on campus, and participated in a recording session at Berklee’s Studio A.

“Kathy’s warmth and expertise are on full display when she’s with our students,” President Roger H. Brown said. “We are fortunate to consider her part of our extended Berklee family.”

A native of West Virginia, Mattea has written and sung extensively about the coal-mining culture of Appalachia. As an advocate for arts and education, social justice, and the environment, she has harnessed the power of her music to influence social change, perhaps most notably through her work raising awareness and funds for issues related to AIDS.

“Kathy is down-to-earth and soulful, and she's the same person onstage and off, which is rare,” says musician Tim O’Brien, who has collaborated with Mattea on many projects. “She really cares about her audience, and she only sings songs that she really believes in.”