Country Artist Mac Wiseman

Mac Wiseman recorded splendid and often groundbreaking music for more than seventy years, remaining relevant and productive even in his nineties. He was a titan of bluegrass music’s first generation, though bluegrass never defined him. He helped found the CMA, he headed Dot Records’ country division, and he recorded with everyone from big band legend Woody Herman to Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy to Americana poet laureate John Prine.

He was born on May 23, 1925, in Crimora, Virginia. He attended school in New Hope, Virginia, and graduated from high school there in 1943. He had polio from the age of six months; due to his disabilities, he could not do field work and spent his time in childhood listening to old records. He studied at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Dayton, Virginia, before it moved to Winchester, Virginia, in 1960 and started his career as a disc jockey at WSVA-AM in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

His musical career began as upright bass player in the Cumberland Mountain Folks, the band of country singer Molly O’Day. When Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs left Bill Monroe’s band, Wiseman became the guitarist for their new band, the Foggy Mountain Boys. Later he played with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys.

In 1951, his first solo single, “‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered”, was released. According to Rolling Stone this song “catapulted him to solo stardom”.

He was co-founder of the Country Music Association (CMA) and was its last living co-founder. In 1958, the original CMA board was formed with help from Wiseman to save the popularity of country music from rock & roll. He also served as the first secretary of CMA. From 1966 to 1970, Wiseman served as director of the WWVA Jamboree.

In 1986 he co-founded the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) which was another influential bluegrass music body.

Wiseman was referred to by a disc jockey as “The Voice with a Heart”, a title which became popular among his fans. He was popular for his interpretations of songs on Dot Records such as “Shackles and Chains”, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight”, “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy”, and “Love Letters in the Sand”.

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Learn More About Mac Wiseman

About Mac Wiseman

Mac Wiseman was an American country music singer and guitarist, born on May 23, 1925, in Crimora, Virginia. He was known for his smooth tenor voice and his ability to blend traditional country with elements of folk and bluegrass.

Wiseman began his music career in the 1940s, playing with a variety of bands before joining Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1946. He spent a decade with Monroe, during which time he recorded some of his most famous songs, including “Travelin’ Down This Lonesome Road” and “Can’t You Hear Me Calling.”

In the early 1950s, Wiseman began recording under his own name and quickly found success with hits like “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy” and “Love Letters in the Sand.” He continued to record throughout the 1950s and 1960s, building a loyal following with his heartfelt, soulful performances.

Wiseman’s influence on country music continued throughout the decades, and he remained an active performer and recording artist well into his 80s. In addition to his music career, he was also a respected radio host, serving as the host of the syndicated show “The Country Music Hall of Fame” from 1971 to 1982.

What songs did Mac Wiseman write?

While Mac Wiseman was a talented singer and musician, he was primarily known for his interpretations of songs written by other artists. However, he did write or co-write a few songs during his career. Here are some examples:

  • “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home” (co-written with Tom T. Hall)
  • “The Baggage Coach Ahead” (co-written with G. Morris)
  • “Love Letters in the Sand” (co-written with J. Fred Coots and Charles F. Kenny)
  • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett’s Beechnut Tree” (co-written with Billy Edd Wheeler)

It’s worth noting that “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home” became one of Wiseman’s signature songs and was covered by many other artists in the years following its release.

Was Mac Wiseman a member of the Grand Ole Opry?

Yes, Mac Wiseman was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, one of the most prestigious country music institutions in the world. He was inducted as a member in 1957 and remained an active participant until his passing in 2019. During his long tenure with the Opry, Wiseman performed alongside many of country music’s biggest stars and helped to shape the sound of the genre through his unique blend of traditional country, folk, and bluegrass influences. His contributions to the Opry and to country music as a whole have earned him a lasting legacy as one of the genre’s most beloved and respected artists.

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