Mary Battiata (pronounced Baa-tea-ah-tah it's Italian)
She was raised in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC in the 1960s and '70s, when local commercial and public radio was broadcasting several hours of classic Country and vintage Bluegrass daily, including the occasional broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry and the Eddie Stubbs show on WSM. She first heard Hank Williams, and many other greats, from George Jones to Connie Smith to Dolly Parton to the Stanley Brothers, as well as Jimmy Martin, Wanda Jackson, the Country Gentlemen, the Louvin Brothers and the Seldom Scene on the family's car radio and late-night transistor. She was hooked!
She loved the sound, the pedal steel and the beautiful stories in those songs. By high school, she had bought herself a flat-top guitar with her chore money and was sounding out traditional and new songs as interpreted by her favorite female artists, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Emmylou Harris and Hazel Dickens, among others. She began writing her own songs in the late 1990s, after returning home from several years overseas as a journalist in war zones in Eastern Europe and East Africa. She resettled in Northern Virginia and formed her first alt-country band soon after and has since released three CDs of original music, all in the alt-Country and Country folk vein.
Her latest recording, The Heart, Regardless, is the most traditional Country sounding yet, and includes honky-tonk and rockabilly songs, and even a barroom ballad or two. The album has been well-received, earning some five-star reviews and airplay on commercial Country and public radio shows in the U.S. and Europe. Mary tours and plays from home base in Virginia, including semi-annual shows in Austin, Texas. When she is not playing music, she teaches art and creative writing to elementary aged children with learning differences and works part-time as an assistant park naturalist. This summer, she will hit the road to promote the new record, playing shows in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York state and the Carolinas. She will also return to Classic Country Music Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins West Virginia, to present a class on the history of early country music television.
She is currently obsessed with the catalog of several great Alabama artists, the late Vern Gosdin among them, and she continues to explore and expand her knowledge of the Hank Williams catalogue. In September, Mary will return to Montgomery to play the annual Hank Birthday Show at the Hank Williams Museum there. It was at that show four years ago that Mary first met Sherri Little Brackin, ET Thomas and other members of the Hank Williams Fan Club. This will be Mary's third year at the Hank Williams Festival. She is very happy to be returning to Georgiana and working with the wonderful Flashback band.
"This is a gem of an album" Bob Harris, Bob Harris Country, BBC Radio 2
"Mary Battiata's latest is no more and no less than a jewel of modern country." Dani Heyvaert, ROOTSTIME.BE (Belgium)
"Dark Country that hits the motherlode" Mike Davies, Fatea Records Magazine (UK)
"Ms. Battiata has a fabulous voice and wraps it around some excellent lyrical content. … The arrangements do indeed incorporate a little twang a little folk and a little pop influence but you also get a sprinkling of delicious Bluegrass undertones, some haunting strings and the occasional nice fat funky bass line. That there are so many quality musicians in this studio band also adds to the overall enjoyment of this collection, all bar one written by the artiste herself. I will express a preference for some of the more up-tempo songs 'Six Miles Out' and '20 Words' both floated my boat as did the very infectious 'Knockout Boy.' The closing song is an absolute delight." Chris Smith, 5-star review, Country Music People magazine (UK), May 2018
"One of the 20 other great honky-tonk albums that I tremendously enjoyed this year" - A. Michael Uhlmann, Honky Tonk Daily (Austin TX), in the coda to HTD's list of Top Country Albums of 2017; others on the coda: Jason Isbell, Charley Pride, Lee Ann Womack, Marty Stuart and more]
"The space evoking 'Remember This' … is arguable the high point of the album as pedal steel, banjo and a moody drifting feel see Battiata on an emotion packed adventure to a place beyond the norm. … and crackerjack of a back-roads country jewel 'Can't Take My Mind Off You' (more excellent harmony vocals [Dudley Connell], and the gallop of '20 Words,' a machine-gun short tune that never stops for breath. The record, produced by Battiata and Dave Nachodsky, enjoys a great deal of instrumental depth, creativity and width over what is a more than generous 14 tracks." Maurice Hope, Flyinshoes Review (UK)