Kathy Mattea Presented with Berklee’s American Master Award

Margot Edwards
March 20, 2019
Press release

The Grammy-winning songwriter received the award at Warner Music Nashville during Berklee's 34th annual Nashville student trip.

Left to right: Pat Pattison, Clare McLeod, Kathy Mattea, Roger H. Brown, Mark Wessel, Bonnie Hayes, and Stephen Webber
Kathy Mattea
Kathy Mattea speaks to Berklee students.
Kathy Mattea conducts a clinic for Berklee students.
Image by Ryan Nava
Image by Ryan Nava
Image by Ryan Nava
Image by Ryan Nava

Berklee presented its American Master Award to acclaimed songwriter Kathy Mattea on Monday, March 18, at Warner Music Nashville as part of the college’s 34th annual Nashville student trip. Mattea has garnered two Grammy Awards, four CMA Awards, four no. 1 country singles, five gold albums, and platinum status for her greatest hits collection. She has been hailed by The Washington Post as “one of Nashville's finest song interpreters.”

“Kathy is a great friend of Berklee, having visited the campus several times, providing valuable mentorship through workshops and master classes in both Boston and Nashville,” said Berklee President Roger H. Brown, who presented the award. “Her warmth and expertise are on full display when she’s with our students, and we are fortunate to consider her part of our extended Berklee family.”

After the ceremony, Mattea conducted a clinic with the students. “That the arc of my career, my triumphs and especially my regrets, might inform these young musicians, is a profoundly humbling experience,” Mattea said. “I walk out of here high for days on the joy of our connection, one based on a mutual fire we all carry and recognize in each other: that drive to express ourselves deeply, honestly, in the world, through music.”

“To have the opportunity to love on these kids, who have worked so hard and are on the brink of launching into their careers, is one of the greatest gifts in my life,” she continued. “It’s added layers of meaning to my own journey, and a perspective on my life and work that is unique and was totally unexpected.”

Mattea’s latest album, Pretty Bird, chronicles her three-year journey through life challenges and vocal glitches that she describes as her “dark night of the soul,” a trying time of personal anguish and professional uncertainty that threatened to silence her permanently. Instead, Mattea dug in with a vocal coach, recommitted to her music, and emerged with the most poignant album of her career.

For 34 years, a group of Berklee students has spent their spring break in Nashville, getting an intensive, in-depth look at the music industry and gaining invaluable insight through clinics and workshops with accomplished alumni artists, songwriters, producers, and engineers. This year, clinicians included Tom Hambridge, Jonathan Perkins, Vanessa Campagna, Craig Monday, Kyle Lehning, Matt Rollings '86, and Liz Longley '10. The students also attended a recording session with alumnus Charlie Worsham '06 at The Tracking Room, and toured Sound Emporium, Southern Ground, Ocean Way, Blackbird, and Starstruck studios.

Led by BerkleeNYC Executive Director Stephen Webber and Pat Pattison, professor of liberal arts, more than 3,600 students have attended the program since its inception.

Berklee’s American Master Award is presented to industry leaders whose openness, generosity, and deep commitment to music education have made a positive impact on the lives of young musicians, providing them opportunities to grow as artists and leaders. Past recipients of the award include T Bone Burnett, Gillian Welch '92, David Rawlings '92, Jim Ed Norman, Eddie Bayers, Tony Bongiovi, and David Cobb.

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