Country artist Kaitlyn Baker releases a love song to Southwest Virginia.
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Photo by Paula Rowe
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Photo by Paula Rowe
Kaitlyn Baker grew up in Pound, a Southwest Virginia town so small it doesn’t even have a stoplight. And she couldn’t be prouder.
“When you live here, you just realize everything about this area that you love,” she says.
With the help of fellow songwriter Scott Arnold, Baker recently released Heart of Appalachia, an ode to her home and the new theme song of the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority. The music video starts with a “little barefoot girl with ponytails,” and names specific Southwest Virginia landmarks like the Pocahontas Trail and the Clinch River. A fisherman casts a line, a cyclist flies down a mountain biking trail and Baker sings her heart out atop peaks that overlook the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“Scott understands the heart of where I live, and it was just a really natural thing for both of us to write a song about Southwest Virginia,” says Baker, who’s been singing since elementary school and recorded her first album at age 12.
Heart of Appalachia, by Kaitlyn Baker
Baker started performing when she was as young as 8, and now at age 21 she takes her talents all over the country, performing at fairs and opening for big country music names like Brett Eldredge and Travis Tritt. On a recent tour stop in Colorado, a show director approached Baker backstage and asked if she’d be willing to sing the National Anthem before Brad Paisley took the stage.
“I was shakin’ all over, my legs were tremblin’, I was so incredibly nervous,” Baker recalls. “After I got off stage tears were just pouring from my eyes, I couldn’t control it. I’d worked so hard my entire life at doing this, and for something like that to just randomly happen that I didn’t really expect was such a heart-wrencher.”
Baker isn’t interested in making political statements with her music, but with the line “People ‘round here are slow to change/With Jesus in their hearts and coal in their veins,” she does acknowledge that her hometown and its surrounding region have been hit hard by the recent closing of coal mines.
“I know it can be a touchy subject for some, but it’s just been really hard on a lot of people here,” she says. “But it’s been really hard on a lot of people here. My hope for this song is that people will hear it and want to come visit and create tourism, which could lead to more jobs and help so many people out.” KaitlynBaker.com
Read our 2014 story about Kaitlyn here.