The great Mac Wiseman, known widely as The Voice with a Heart, died this morning in an Antioch, TN rehab facility. He was 93 years of age, and had been experiencing kidney failure these past few weeks.
One could argue that there was no more distinctive singing voice in the history of bluegrass or country music than Mac’s. Never was it unclear who it was when he was singing, a quality he retained into his old age. Though his singing days were behind him, that signature tone was still evident in his speaking voice right up to the end.
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. 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.
No information about services has been announced. We will publish a more detailed career overview in the near future.
R.I.P., Mac Wiseman.