KATHY MATTEA IN DL FRIDAY: Grammy-winning singer at Holmes

Kathy Mattea, the beloved, Grammy award-winning singer of such classics as "18 Wheels and A Dozen Roses," "Where've You Been," and many more, will be performing live at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes this Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.


Kathy Mattea, the beloved, Grammy award-winning singer of such classics as "18 Wheels and A Dozen Roses," "Where've You Been," and many more, will be performing live at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes this Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Though music has always been her passion, Mattea said that pursuing a career in the performing arts was a decision that came relatively late in her life.

"Music has always been a thread running through my life -- it was and is my passion," Mattea said in a telephone interview. "But I was the 'brainchild' in my community, and in my family.

"I skipped the first grade," she continued. The expectation was, "You've got this big brain, this gift, so that's your focus."

In other words, her family expected big things from her. So she enrolled in college with majors in physics, chemistry and engineering.


"I was making A's pretty easily -- and playing music during every moment of my spare time," Mattea said.

Though she had no trouble getting through her class assignments, "it had no life for me. Somehow I felt more alive when I was doing music than when I was doing anything else. Something in me just sprung to life."

So a couple of years into her college education, Mattea was approached by one of her band members about making the trip out to Nashville to pursue a music career with him.

"I quit college and moved to Nashville, and I've been here ever since," she said.

Though it was a risky move, it turned out to be the right one.

"Not for one second have I regretted it," Mattea said. "In fact, when I teach college music students, I use that as an example -- the fact that I could buck the expectations that were set for my life feels like a miracle to me now.

"I was just 19 when I made that decision -- so many times I have just thanked God that I found my calling so young, and fulfilled it.

"It's the one thing in my life that never gets boring," Mattea continued. "Every day is different -- there's always something new to learn. I can keep challenging myself."


One of the challenges for Mattea has been keeping the sense of freshness in performing some of her older songs.

"There was one moment on stage when I was singing '18 Wheels,' and I realized, singing this song every night could be heaven on earth, or hell on earth -- the only difference is me," she said. "I started playing with that, and I started thinking, 'OK, tonight I'm going to sing this to the one person in this room who's been waiting for years to hear that girl singing that song, and singing it live.

"Another night, I might just want to appreciate the band, and how beautifully they play this song. Another night I'll be really listening to this beautiful solo that my guitar player Bill does.

"When I started doing that, I never said a word to the band, but the whole experience of performing that song shifted for everybody. They played it differently. We were all very present in it.

"They really are wonderful musicians, and they never phone anything in, but (the song) had a new depth to it -- (from) remembering to honor the audience and the experience they're having, and to honor ourselves and each other."

Mattea said she typically does about 60-70 shows a year now -- and for most of them, she and the band travel by bus.

"The bus is the way to go -- it's so great!" she said. "It's the ultimate luxury -- the closest thing to bringing home out on the road with you."

Mattea, who has performed several times at the WE Fest country music festival, said she's looking forward to coming back to Detroit Lakes.


"My husband's family is from Minnesota," she said, noting that her husband's name is Jon Vezner.

"He's a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter," she said. "He actually won a Grammy for writing one of my biggest hits, 'Where've You Been.'"

She has fond memories of the family bringing their RV and following her on the summer concert circuit, including WE Fest.

Though her husband used to come out on tour with her occasionally, Mattea said that these days, they try to coordinate their schedules so that they are on the road at the same time, and spending the rest of their time at home together.

"We try to make our together time at home," she added.

Tickets for Friday night's show at the Historic Holmes Theatre are $32 for adults, $16 for students, and may be purchased online at , by phone at 218-844-SHOW (7469), or at the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 806 Summit Ave., during their regular business hours.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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