This Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 11 am on Back to the Country, music historian Bill Malone interviews Mac Wiseman, who was recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of the cult figures of bluegrass and known as “The Voice with a Heart,” Mac was born Malcolm B. Wiseman on May 23, 1925 in Crimora, Virginia. He studied at the Shenandoah Conservatory, started his career as a disc jockey in Harrisonburg, Virginia and later became one of a handful of musicians who helped create the genre of bluegrass music.
Mac began his musical career as upright bass player for 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 and later played with Bill Monroe in the Bluegrass Boys. In the 1950s, after a live performance on the country music radio show Louisiana Hayride he became popular as a solo artist, and was the star of The Old Dominion Barn Dance on WRVA in Richmond, Va. During the 1960’s folk revival Wiseman performed successful concerts from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall.
He joined the cast of the hit TV show In the Heat of the Night for their CD Christmas Time’s A Comin’, which became one of the most popular holiday releases of 1991-92 with Southern retailers. In 1993 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. His substantial girth and light tenor voice gave rise to the quip that “Mac Wiseman sings like Gene Vincent looks, and looks like Ernest Tubb sings.”
In 2014 Mac was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as releasing a new album, Songs From My Mother’s Hand, inspired by his mother’s handwritten notebooks of songs she heard on the radio when he was a child. Mac sang songs with his mother around a pump organ, and often pored through her notebooks, sang to himself and taught himself guitar chords.
These folk songs with roots in the British Isles are part of the foundation of what’s now known as country music, and they imparted in
Wiseman a love of song that would spur the longest recording career of any American singing star alive in 2014. Don’t miss this unforgettable interview with a country/bluegrass legend by tuning into Back to the Country with Bill Malone, this Wednesday morning at 11 am.