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Mac Wiseman

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Mac Wiseman
Wiseman in 2008
Background information
Birth nameMalcolm Bell Wiseman[1]
Born(1925-05-23)May 23, 1925
Crimora, Virginia, U.S.
DiedFebruary 24, 2019(2019-02-24) (aged 93)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresBluegrass, country
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
Years active1944–2019
LabelsDot, Capitol, RCA, Sugar Hill, CMH, Oh Boy, Rural Rhythm, Mountain Fever
Formerly ofThe GrooveGrass Boyz

Malcolm Bell Wiseman (May 23, 1925 – February 24, 2019) was an American bluegrass and country singer.

Early life[edit]

He was born on May 23, 1925, in Crimora, Virginia.[2] He attended school in New Hope, Virginia, and graduated from high school there in 1943. He had polio from the age of six months;[3] due to his disabilities, he could not do field work and spent his time in childhood listening to old records.[3] 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.[4]

Music career[edit]

His musical career began as upright bass player in the Cumberland Mountain Folks, the band of country singer Molly O'Day.[2] When Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs left Bill Monroe's band, Wiseman became the guitarist for their new band, the Foggy Mountain Boys.[2] Later he played with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys.[2]

In 1951, his first solo single, "'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered", was released. According to Rolling Stone this song "catapulted him to solo stardom".[3]

He was co-founder of the Country Music Association (CMA) and was its last living co-founder.[2] In 1958, the original CMA board was formed with help from Wiseman to save the popularity of country music from rock & roll.[2] He also served as the first secretary of CMA.[2] From 1966 to 1970, Wiseman served as director of the WWVA Jamboree.[2]

In 1986 he co-founded the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) which was another influential bluegrass music body.[2]

Wiseman was referred to by a disc jockey as "The Voice with a Heart", a title which became popular among his fans.[4] 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".[5]

In 2014, he released an album of songs inspired by his mother's handwritten notebooks of songs she heard on the radio when Wiseman was a child: Songs From My Mother's Hand.[2][6]

He died in Nashville on February 24, 2019.[2][1] The cause of death was kidney failure.[1]

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.

— Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, [5]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1993 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.[7] Wiseman was a recipient of a 2008 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.[8] In 2014 he became part of the Veteran Era category of the Country Music Hall of Fame, as "an artist who achieved national prominence more than 45 years ago".[3]

Selected discography[edit]


Year Title Label Number Notes
1957 Tis Sweet To Be Remembered Dot DLP-3084/25084 Dot mono = 3xxx, stereo = 25xxx[7]
1959 Great Folk Ballads Dot Records DLP-3213 Mono
1959 Beside The Still Waters Dot Records DLP-3135 Mono
1960 Keep On The Sunny Side Dot Records DLP-3336 Mono
1960 Mac Wiseman Sings 12 Great Hits Dot Records DLP-3313 Mono
1961 Best-Loved Gospel Hymns Dot Records DLP-3373 Mono
1962 Fire Ball Mail And Other Favorites Dot Records DLP-3408 Mono
1962 Bluegrass Favorites Capitol Records T-1800 Mono
2014 Songs From My Mother's Hand Wrinkled Records WR-8336 Inspired by his mother's handwritten notebooks of popular songs from his childhood[2]
2017 I Sang the Songs Mountain Fever Songs based on stories related in Wiseman’s recent autobiography[9]

Notable singles[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Album
US Country
CAN Country
1955 "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" 10 Non-album single
1959 "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy" 5 Great Folk Ballads
1963 "Your Best Friend and Me" 12 Non-album single
1968 "Got Leavin' On Her Mind" 54
1969 "Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride" 38 30 Sings Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride
1978 "Never Going Back Again" 78 Non-album single
1979 "My Blue Heaven" (with Woody Herman) 69
"Scotch and Soda" 88
"Shackles and Chains" (with Osborne Brothers) 95 The Essential Bluegrass Album
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ a b c Friskics-Warren, Bill (February 25, 2019). "Mac Wiseman, Bluegrass Star Who Was Much More Than That, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Moore, Bobby (February 25, 2019). "Mac Wiseman, Bluegrass Icon, Dead at 93". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Country Hall of Fame Taps Ronnie Milsap, Mac Wiseman, Hank Cochran". Rolling Stone. April 22, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Thanki, Juli (February 25, 2019). "Country, bluegrass great Wiseman, dead at 93". Vol. 115, no. 56. The Tennessean. p. 1A. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Gill, Joey (February 24, 2019). "Bluegrass musician Mac Wiseman dies at 93". WSMV Nashville. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  6. ^ "American Treasure, Bluegrass Pioneer, Country Music Hall of Famer Mac Wiseman releases masterwork album of folk songs from his childhood". Wrinkled Records. July 11, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Mac Wiseman". Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum. October 23, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2008". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  9. ^ "Mac Wiseman – I Sang The Song – Mountain Fever Records". mountainfever.com. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2012). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2012. Record Research, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8.
  11. ^ "Mac Wiseman - Country Singles". RPM. Retrieved October 17, 2023.

External links[edit]