Hard to believe it’s been over thirty years since Kathy Mattea‘s first top ten appearance. If you were listening to country radio in the late 80’s and early 90’s, you’ll remember her hits. If you are a newer listener, you may not be familiar with her music. Do yourself a favor; get some of her music, listen to it, and enjoy a highly underrated vocalist who deserves much more acclaim than she’s often given.
The Cross Lanes, West Virginia native wasn’t a stranger to the country music top 40 in 1986; she had made her debut three years earlier. But it was the song released in the Spring of 1986 that propelled her to stardom. And it featured a future hall of famer singing some harmony, as well. The song was Nancy Griffith’s “Love At The Five And Dime”, a sentimental song about the love of Rita and Eddie. It began at the five and dime and continued through his music career, and as the song ends, they’re still together.
Released in April, 1986, it debuted on Billboard‘s Country top 40 in early May. Whereas her previous four appearances had all peaked in the twenties and thirties, this record raced past those previous peaks and didn’t stop until peaking as high as 3 in early Summer.
Not only was it Kathy’s first top ten hit, it was the first of fifteen consecutive top ten hits on Billboard, including four number ones. Overall, Kathy had sixteen top ten hits, between 1986 and 1994, with five more making the top twenty. A streak that helped her pick up two CMA Female Vocalist awards in 1989 and 1990.
Oh, and that future hall of famer who sang harmony? Don Williams.
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.