Mac Wiseman reaches 90 years of age 

Country Music Hall of Fame plaque for Mac WisemanMac Wiseman, the Voice with the Heart, celebrates his 90th birthday today, Saturday, May 23, 2015.

Malcolm B Wiseman began his working life in radio, on Radio WSVA-AM in Harrisonburg, Virginia, when he was on the cusp of leaving his teenage years. There he sang in Buddy Starcher’s group. Later, he led his own band briefly at WFMD, Frederick, Maryland. From there he moved to WNOX, Knoxville, to be with Molly O’Day’s Cumberland Mountain Folks, playing bass and featuring as a vocalist.

In December 1946 he played bass during O’Day’s first Columbia recording session.

The following year Wiseman was again working on his own, featuring on WCYB, in Bristol, and then as a sideman with Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, with whom he recorded for Mercury Records.

Just before Easter of 1949 he joined Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys. About six months later he recorded two duets with Monroe; Travelin’ this Lonesome Road and the first recording of the classic Can’t You Hear Me Calling.

In December of that same year Wiseman left Monroe to perform as a solo act, as he was to do for almost all of the remainder of his career, and in a style that was as much country music as it was bluegrass music.

Mac WisemanHe has recorded prolifically through the decades with releases on the Dot, Capitol, Rural Rhythm, Wise, MGM, ABC, Vetco, CMH and RCA labels. He has re-releases on Stetson (UK) and, most significantly, by Bear Family Records, who in 2003 issued a multi-CD box set called ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered

Wiseman was active in the business elements of music also; as an A & R man for Dot Records, as a founder of the Country Music Association, as a member of the board of Reunion of Professional Entertainers (ROPE), and as an officer of the Nashville chapter of the American Federation of Musicians.

Wiseman managed Wheeling, West Virginia’s WWVA Jamboree from 1966 to 1970 also.

He was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame (in 1984); the SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats (1987); and the IBMA Hall of Honor (1993).

In 2014 Wiseman was the inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

To help celebrate Wiseman’s 90th birthday, country radio and television personality Bill Bilbrey is hosting a “friendly roast” of Wiseman at the Texas Troubadour Theatre in Nashville.

Jan Howard, Jesse McReynolds, Ronnie Reno and Martha and Eddie Adcock are among the artists scheduled to take part. Thomm Jutz, who co-produced Wiseman’s 2014 album Songs from My Mother’s Hand, will serve as the show’s musical director.

The event, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Very many Happy Birthday wishes Mac. All the staff at Bluegrass Today hope that you have a wonderful and joyous day.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.