Coal Country  By  cover art

Coal Country

By: Jessica Blank, Erik Jensen, Steve Earle - music
Narrated by: Mary Bacon, Amelia Campbell, Michael Gaston, Ezra Knight, Thomas Kopache, Michael Laurence, Deirdre Madigan, Linda Powell

Publisher's summary

Portions of this audiobook contain mature language and themes. Listener discretion is advised.

In 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 men and tore a hole in the lives of countless others. Now you can hear the first-person accounts from survivors and family members. In this riveting, emotionally stunning new work, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, award-winning writers of The Exonerated, and three-time Grammy Award-winning country/folk legend Steve Earle dig deep into the repercussions of the most deadly mining disaster in recent US history.

©2021 Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen (P)2021 AO Media LLC

About the Creators

Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen are a multihyphenate writing team who The New Yorker calls "among the foremost practitioners of documentary theater in the U.S." Together, they are authors of The Exonerated, a play based on interviews they conducted with over 40 death row exonerees (Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Ovation, Fringe First, Herald Angel Awards). The Exonerated has been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Farsi, Mandarin, and Japanese and adapted by Jessica and Erik into an award-winning TV movie. Living Justice, Jessica and Erik's book on the making of The Exonerated, was published by Simon and Schuster. Their documentary play Aftermath, based on interviews with Iraqi civilian refugees in Jordan, ran Off Broadway at NYTW, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, toured internationally for two years and was nominated for two Drama League Awards. Their play* How to be a Rock Critic* (based on the writings of Lester Bangs) was produced at the Kirk Douglas, South Coast Rep, ArtsEmerson, Steppenwolf, and the Public Theater, with Erik starring and Jessica directing. Their most recent documentary play, The Line, based on interviews with NYC medical first responders, was created in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, immediately after Coal Country’s Public Theater run was interrupted. The Line’s digital run, directed by Jessica, was produced by the Public and seen by nearly 100,000 people in 55 countries. Jessica and Erik also write for television and film; their first feature Almost Home, based on Jessica’s novel of the same name (Hyperion, 2007), was released by Vertical Entertainment in 2019 and their second feature, How to be a Rock Critic (based on their play), is currently in development. Both also act regularly in film and television. They live in Brooklyn with their daughter.

About the Creator

Steve Earle is one of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters of his generation. A protégé of legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, he quickly became a master storyteller in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, The Pretenders, and countless others. In 1986, his record Guitar Town was released and shot to number one on the country charts. It’s now regarded as a classic of the Americana genre. Subsequent releases, like The Revolution Starts...Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007), and TOWNES (2009), received consecutive Grammy Awards. Restlessly creative across artistic disciplines, Earle has published both a novel (I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive) and a collection of short stories (Doghouse Roses); produced albums for other artists, such as Joan Baez and Lucinda Williams, and acted in films, television (including David Simon’s acclaimed The Wire), and on the stage. He currently hosts a radio show for Sirius XM. In 2009, Earle appeared in the off-Broadway play Samara, for which he also wrote a score that The New York Times described as "exquisitely subliminal." Earle wrote music for and appeared in Coal Country, a riveting public theater play that dives into the most-deadly mining disaster in US history, for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. His 2020 album Ghosts of West Virginia was named as one of "The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far" by Rolling Stone. Earle was recently (November 2020) inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and released his 21st studio album, J.T., in 2021 as a tribute to his late son, Justin Townes Earle.