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New CD Explores The Love/Hate Relationship Between Coal And Appalachia

November 9, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - People in Appalachia have always had a complicated relationship with the coal industry, and a new CD shows how deep that goes. More than a dozen recording artists such as Ralph Stanley and Gillian Welch are on the CD, called "Coal Country Music." It explores the bitter/sweet feelings about coal mining, which brought jobs, but also mine accidents, black lung and environmental devastation, like that described in John Prine's classic song, "Paradise."

". . . the coal company came with the world's largest shovel, and they tortured the timber and stripped all the land. Well, they dug for their coal 'til the land was forsaken, then they wrote it all down as the progress of man . . ."

Coal company executives and industry spokespeople often describe their critics as outsiders, new to the area. But the CD's producers say these songs, and the sentiments they contain, are as old as the hills.

Co-producer Andy Mahler says they asked the artists specifically for songs that tap into the deep roots in Appalachian culture.

"The artists themselves looked through their own catalogs of material and picked out songs that they felt spoke directly to life in the mountains, to the issues related to coal, and the mountains that are being destroyed."

Mahler says the proceeds from the CD will support opposition to mountaintop removal mining.

Information is available at www.coalcountrymusic.com

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV