Country Music People October 2017 - Page 56

MAC WISEMAN n a M y s u B Still A by Walt Trott ac Wiseman is bluegrass and country music’s senior surviving star, still singing and recording at age 92. He’s also the last surviving founding father of the Country Music Association, and was a founding member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). Known as “The Voice With a Heart,” his staying power is remarkable. Witness I Sang The Song: Life Of the Voice With a Heart, a tribute album co-produced by Thomm Jutz and Peter Cooper for Mountain Fever Records, released last January. While cutting his featured duet for that CD - ’Tis Sweet To Be Remembered with Alison Krauss - (his signature song) last fall, Mac celebrated his 70th anniversary recording, recalling his 1946 disc debut in Chicago with legendary Molly O’Day. After learning in June that he was being inducted into the Blue Ridge Hall of Fame M 56 cmp - OCTOBER 2017 in Wilkesboro, N.C., lo and behold the IBMA announced its nominees for the 2017 Bluegrass Awards in Raleigh, N.C., disclosing a surprised Mac was in the running for three awards. Actually, he’s in competition with himself via two nods in one category: Best Recorded Event. He and Alison’s . . . Remembered duet earned a nomination, as did Shawn Camp’s cut Going Back To Bristol, which gives Mac co-writer recognition. In addition, Camp’s version of … Bristol is also up for Best Song, which includes co-writers Wiseman, Cooper and Jutz. The back story to this welcome news is after Wiseman invited Cooper and Jutz to his home, they began perusing Mac’s memoirs: “Mac Wiseman: All My Memories Fit For Print” (authored by CMP’s Walt Trott). That sparked an idea to create new songs relating to different chapters. According to Wiseman, the three spent nine weekends collaborating for 10 songs inspired by the life he led, as documented in the publication, which in May won the ARSC award as best country book. In turn, these songs comprise the IBMA-nominated music paying homage to Mac’s life, thanks to Mountain Fever. Despite the career uptick, the last few years haven’t been all sunshine and roses, as Mac’s marriage to the former Marjorie Brennan came to an end after 53 years; death claimed both his sister Naomi Johnson, and his daughter Sheila Taylor; and his attorney son Randy was diagnosed with cancer. He also bid goodbye to some of his close friends, including Randy Wood, George Riddle, Charlie Dick, Hank Cochran, Jean Shepard, Merle Haggard, Jo Walker-Meador and Pete Kuykendall. Mac’s no stranger to adversity, however, having been diagnosed at six months with Infantile Paralysis of his right leg, but the Virginia farm boy never let this affliction hold him down. After studying at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music