This Saturday (3/12) in Pigeon Forge, TN, the North American Country Music Association International will host its 2016 Hall of Fame Show at the Country Tonite Theater.
Among the artists being inducted into the NCAMAI Hall of Fame this year is the great Mac Wiseman, beloved by bluegrass and country music lovers alike for his 70 year career touring and recording.
Mac worked regionally in Virginia when he finished college in the early 1940s, and took his first professional job playing bass and singing lead with Molly O’Day in 1946. They were working on the radio in Knoxville at the time. Soon that mellifolous voice was in high demand on country radio, and Wiseman was a featured performer on his own, and as a vocalist with both Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe. He recorded with both bluegrass stars in the late ‘4os.
The ’50s saw him break out as a true country star under his own name. Though he toured with a bluegrass band, often with twin fiddles, he resisted being labeled as bluegrass, feeling that it hurt his marketability on radio. His two biggest hits came in the mid-to-late ’50s, The Ballad of Davy Crockett and Jimmy Brown The Newsboy, both Top 10 charting numbers.
When the folk revival and the bluegrass festival scene began in the 1960s, Mac was right in there with both, again touring with a bluegrass band. The college performing circuit also welcomed his, by then, old time country sound. By the time the ’70s rolled around, Wiseman was living in Nashville and recording straight bluegrass again, cutting several albums with Lester Flatt and several on his own.
The last two decades of the 20th century saw him continuing to perform at bluegrass festivals, but with more limited album releases. His most recent album, Songs From My Mother’s Hand, was released in 2014 and his autobiography, All My Memories Fit For Print, in 2015.
Now restricted to a wheelchair, Wiseman sticks pretty close to home, but still appears occasionally on television in Nashville.
Over this lengthy career has said that he has recorded more than 800 songs, a milestone few artists will ever approach. He also has the distinction of serving as a founder of both the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association, and his work as an A&R man for Dot Records led to the release of his trademark song, ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered.
Now approaching 91 years of age, Mac will not be able to attend the NCAMAI induction this weekend, but he is surely deserving of this, and every other imaginable award the music industry can produce.
Congratulations, Mac Wiseman!