Mac Wiseman (from the album I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart) on Mountain Fever Records)

It could have been a once upon a time beginning. Mac Wiseman sat down to tell his tale to songwriters Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz, their talks becoming the tracks that cover I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart), the latest release from Mac Wiseman. Mac’s story spread over decades, a tale of a musical career that took him from his native Virginia to working with the cornerstones of Bluegrass as Mac became a member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs band, The Foggy Mountain Boys, on guitar and later with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. A performance on Louisiana Hayride ushered Mac Wiseman into a solo career. He became a highlight of WRVA (Richmond, Virginia) on The Old Dominion Barn Dance in the 1950’s and played high profile shows at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall during the 1960’s Folk music resurgence. Mac’s ninety-one years were laid out over nine weeks of conversations between the three men. Peter Cooper wrote of the experience that ‘The stories would have been remarkable coming from anyone. But coming from Mac Wiseman, an acknowledged master of American roots music who earned the nickname ‘The Voice with a Heart,’ the stories began to sound like songs. Thomm Jutz and I sat in small chairs that faced the easy chair, situated beneath a photograph of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren, Mac’s childhood place of worship. We wrote down the stories, and found them rich with melody and rhyme’.

Like a barn-raising, friends stopped by to help give structure the music telling the story of Mac Wiseman’s life in I Sang the Song. Shawn Camp (“Manganese Wine”), Alison Krauss (“Tis Sweet to be Remembered”), and Sierra Hull along with Justin Moses (“The Guitar”) joined a cast of others to stage the songs. Mac Wiseman begins with a hymn as he goes back to days in the summer sun of his youth with “The Wheat Crop”, joins Jim Lauderdale as the weather turns cold in the fall of 1934 for “Barefoot ‘Till After the Frost”, partners with Shawn Camp in the spring of 1947 with “Going Back to Bristol”, and quietly shares the title track with John Prine as memories travel through the cities of the world in “I Sang the Song”. Mac Wiseman is an American treasure and the story of the Country and Bluegrass Hall of Famer is best told in music as it is laid out on I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart).

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