Like many coal mining areas, the region has been hard hit by job losses. Rather than focus on the negative, Baker decided to create an uplifting song about the natural beauty and cultural heritage of her homeland.
Baker is donating a portion of the proceeds from the song to the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, a nonprofit organization that represents several counties in the far southwest corner of the state.
“The roots of bluegrass and country music run deep in the mountains of the Heart of Appalachia region,” said Kitty Barker, executive director of the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority. “Kaitlyn Baker is an example of the talent that is born and raised in these rugged mountains of Virginia. Her talent is a blessing to the region, and her generosity to give back to her home area is admirable.”
Baker wrote “Heart of Appalachia” with Scott Arnold, a musician and songwriter from East Tennessee with whom she had collaborated on previous songs, including “Coal Train,” which was included in the 2015 ACM Awards ZinePak, a 2-CD album that debuted at #4 on Billboard. Arnold produced the music track on “Heart of Appalachia,” while multi-award-winning songwriter and singer Larry Cordle (“Highway 40 Blues,” “Murder on Music Row”) produced the vocal track. Cordle also sang background vocals, along with Val Storey, a prolific session singer who has worked with many other leading artists in Nashville.
“Larry helped me improve certain phrases in the song, and he had great ideas for harmonies,” Baker said. “I was a little nervous at first, just thinking about working with somebody of his stature, but he put me right at ease. He has become a really good friend.”
Baker and her team shot a music video for “Heart of Appalachia” on a shoestring budget at locations throughout Southwest Virginia.
The video can be seen on the tourism authority’s website at www.HeartOfAppalachia.com as well as on YouTube:https://youtu.be/h2BfWyiYvrg.
Cordle can be seen briefly in the “Heart of Appalachia” music video, performing the song with Baker at the Ralph Stanley Bluegrass Festival. Ralph Stanley II also makes a cameo appearance, in a brief shot on the front porch of the Ralph Stanley Museum.
“We filmed the video about a month before Ralph Stanley Sr. passed away,” Baker said. “We were already planning to include the museum because it is such an important attraction, but now I think that one little part of the video is a tribute to his memory. I feel very honored that Ralph II took time to help us.”
“Heart of Appalachia” is available on iTunes and Amazon. Information about Kaitlyn Baker is available at www.KaitlynBaker.com.