Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Mac Daddy

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Mac Daddy

Article excerpt

Just think: If things had gone his way, the great Mac Wiseman, the man they call the "Voice with a Heart," might have had a long and brilliant career in financial analysis.

"I had my heart set on being a CPA or something along that line," he admits. "I took shorthand and several years of typing and bookkeeping. I loved music, and played all through my high school, but just on a local basis with some of the fellas there."

Thankfully, this outcome never came to pass. Instead, Wiseman launched a long and brilliant career in country music, one that is still thriving as it enters its eighth decade. In the past year alone, he has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, recorded an album with Merle Haggard, finished up work on an autobiography, and released the delightful Songs from My Mother's Hand, an album based on the handwritten songbooks that his mother, Ruth, compiled in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mom had taken a two-week seminar from the traveling Stamps-Baxter school, which taught rural folks to read music in order to increase sales of their songbooks. "She learned to read the shape notes very easily," Wiseman remembers, "and we had an old pump organ, and we'd all gather around as a family and spend many evenings singing those old songs."

Still, a career in music wasn't necessarily the next step. As it happened, it was a terrible misfortune-polio-that altered the course of Wiseman's life. As a young man fresh from high school, he'd really wanted to work at the local Merck plant, which employed scores of Shenandoah Valley denizens, including many of his own relatives. But Merck turned him away because of his polio leg.

"I was just crushed," he says today, "and I dare say had I gotten hired, I never would have been in the music business full time."

The seeds of a music career were first sown in 1939, when he was 13 and finally able to have surgery on his leg. …

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