Mac Wiseman owned a battery operated radio growing up, which kept him in touch with the many exciting happenings in the musical world of the 1930s and 1940s. He picked up the guitar early and played with various groups during high school. Due to a childhood bout with polio, Mac was awarded a scholarship from the National Polio Foundation to study at the Conservatory of Music of Dayton, VA. After a short stint as a radio announcer, Mac began recording in 1946, on a Chicago session with Molly O'Day. He left a year later to form his own group, the Bluegrass Pioneers, who performed on station WCYB's Farm and Fun Time program in Bristol.
In his lifetime, Mac has made more than 60 albums filled with folk, country, bluegrass, pop (he recorded Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” and Gene Austin’s “My Blue Heaven” with big band legend Woody Herman) and rock 'n' roll music. He was a founding member of Flatt & Scruggs' band and a lead vocalist for Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He helped found the Country Music Association. He sang at Carnegie Hall, and made fans of legends Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. He's a member of both the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Mac is one of the heroes,” said fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Kris Kristofferson. Mac became known as "the voice with a heart," and that heart for music began beating back in Crimora, as he lifted his mother's hand-written words in melody.
In June of 2014, Mac gathered friends including Musicians Hall of Famer Jimmy Capps, Grammy-winning bass player Mark Fain, heralded multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses, heralded harmonica player Jelly Roll Johnson, dulcimer master Alisa Jones-Wall, guitar great Thomm Jutz and 23-year-old, rising acoustic music star Sierra Hull for what Mac counts among the most special recording sessions of his 68-year career. He brought that 89-year-old voice with a heart, and an old, yellowed composition book.
“Above all, this project is an effort to preserve American music history, pre-bluegrass,” says Jutz, who co-produced the album Mac calls Songs From My Mother’s Hand with Grammy-nominated producer Peter Cooper. “Mac’s authority in delivering these old songs comes from authenticity. He is the proverbial ‘real thing.’”
“Mac’s authority in delivering these old songs comes from authenticity. He is the proverbial ‘real thing.’”