Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Mary Hott
A 7th generation West Virginian, Mary was born and raised in Paw Paw, WV, an old canal and railroad town which, at the time, had a population of 600. Her high school graduating class consisted of 11 students. With just under 500 people at the last census, it’s still as small town as it gets.
Like many singers, she got her musical start singing in church – the Paw Paw Methodist Church children’s choir. She was four and her mother was the church pianist. Years later, at 87, her mother still plays piano every Sunday at the same church. By the time Mary was a teen her mother had her substitute on piano, or she was singing and playing guitar, for special church services, weddings and funerals along the preacher’s circuit of small Methodist churches that dotted the countryside.
After 26 years in New York City and Boston for college, music and work, she was ready to make that often-perilous emotional journey home. To this day, that sense of community and continuity that is so strong in West Virginia remains a driving force in both her life and music.
Being back home revived her interest in the plight of West Virginia and Appalachia. Mary immersed herself in the stories of the state’s ubiquitous coal culture, which became the motivation to expose the horrendous treatment that coal miners and their families endured. And she was able to draw some parallels to the slave-like conditions and unmarked graves of workers who built the C&O Canal and railroads in her hometown area.
Mary wanted these stories to touch people in ways they hadn’t in the history books. Music and storytelling seemed to be the path. The result is her latest musical project titled “Devil in the Hills.”
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