Born Cerys Elizabeth Philip Matthews in Cardiff, Wales in spring 1969, the singer/songwriter fronted one of the biggest Welsh pop bands to emerge in the Britpop era of the 1990s.
released five albums, but their biggest success came in 1998 with their third album International Velvet. Not only was it the band's major-label debut for Warner Bros., but it was their most cohesive set of traditional pop of their career yet. "Road Rage" and "Mulder and Scully" became Top Ten hits in the U.K. The photogenic and quirky-sweet Matthews also became an instant celebrity; however, her craving for that kind of lifestyle would ultimately lead to Catatonia
's demise. She publicly suffered a nervous breakdown in 1999, and by 2000, Matthews' nonstop partying landed her in rehab to treat exhaustion and asthma brought on by excessive drinking and smoking. Leaving Catatonia
in 2001 after ten years together wasn't any big surprise for Matthews, the band, or their fans. The remaining members carried on without her under a different name after Matthews' final album appearance on Paper Scissors Stone. A rejuvenated Matthews moved to Nashville in early summer 2002 in search of a new beginning. She had already collected 76 traditional folk songs with the idea of making an album of folk covers, but meeting Bucky Baxter eventually changed all that. Upon her arrival in America in June, Matthews handpicked Baxter, who had played lap steel guitar for Bob Dylan
and Ryan Adams
. Her debut album, Cockahoop, was recorded in seven months and appeared on Blanco y Negro in the U.K. in May 2003. Its stateside release followed in October 2004. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi