Bluegrass legend and Country Music Hall of Fame member Mac Wiseman, known widely as The Voice with a Heart, died last Sunday in an Antioch, TN rehab facility.
Mac Wiseman was 93 years of age, and had been experiencing kidney failure these past few weeks.
Wiseman’s life in music began with the appearance of bluegrass, working with Molly O’Day before joining Flatt & Scruggs after they had left Bill Monroe. Before long, Mac also did a stint with Monroe, before launching his own career as a headliner. He found great success in his native Virginia on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, which he worked for many years.
He recorded dozens of albums during his career, and often enjoyed sharing that he had cut more than 200 songs in his day. Early hits included Jimmy Brown The Newsboy and ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered in the late 1950s.
He is also known for his Dot Records interpretations of songs including “Shackles and Chains,” “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy,” “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight,” and “Love Letters in the Sand.”
A number of memorable compilation projects were made in the ’60s and ’70s with Lester Flatt and The Osborne Brothers. Later in the ’80s Mac toured and recorded with Chubby Wise, and those live shows were like a lesson in bluegrass history.
Mac was famous for arriving in town with no supporting musicians, and assembling a band from whomever was jamming or picking in the vicinity. Everyone knew his music, so he would lead a band full of strangers to the stage with confidence anywhere he went.
He was instrumental in the founding of both the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association, and has received Hall of Fame status from both organizations.
Perhaps the highest honor he can claim is that, despite nearly 70 years in the music business, one never hears a word spoken against Mac Wiseman. He was widely and truly loved by his fans, his fellow entertainers, and people in the music industry alike.
Just prior to his passing, he had accepted an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Glenville State College in West Virginia.