More of a song interpreter than a writer, Mac composed or co-composed several bluegrass standards, including:

  • “Are You Coming Back To Me”
  • “Bluebirds Singing for Me”
  • “I’m a Stranger”
  • “Let Me Borrow Your Heart Just for Tonight”
  • “Remembering”
  • “‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered”
  • “When I Get the Money Made”

Early Influences

  • Charlie Poole
  • The Skillet Lickers (Gid Tanner, Riley Puckett)
  • The Carter Family
  • Mainer’s Mountaineers
  • Bradley Kincaid
  • Karl & Harty
  • Leary Family (Wilma Lee Cooper)
  • Lee Moore

Performed With

  • The Hungry Five, New Hope, Virginia, 1940-1943
  • Buddy Starcher, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1944-1945
  • Lee Moore and Juanita, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1945-1946
  • Molly O’Day and the Cumberland Mountain Folks, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1946-
  • 1947
  • Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, 1948
  • Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, 1949
  • Mac Wiseman and the Country Boys, 1949-1956
  • Mac Wiseman, 1957-present

Came to Fame With

  • Mac Wiseman and the Country Boys

By the Way

  • Worked as a chemist before he studied broadcasting, worked as a radio announcer, and became a professional musician.
  • Was embarrassed to admit, after joining Bill Monroe, that he hadn’t learned any of his songs.
  • While an executive with Dot Records in California, suggested that Pat Boone record an old standard that had been successful for Mac, “Love Letters in the Sand.” It became a smash hit for Boone in the pop field.
  • Produced 12 sides for Reno and Smiley on the Dot label, 1957.
  • Co-founded the Country Music Association in Nashville and served as its first secretary, 1958, and served two years on the board of the International Bluegrass Music Association.
  • Convinced that his solo voice was the key to his artistic identity, performed very little vocal harmony, and never recorded an instrumental.

Led the Way

  • Brought a sweet tenor solo voice to bluegrass, interpreting folk, Victorian sentimental ballads, pop standards, and early country music repertoire for generations of listeners.
  • The first bluegrass artist to have a parallel music business career, as a label executive, producer, and mail order record entrepreneur.
  • From the mid fifties to the present, experimented in a wide variety of recording genres, from Dixieland jazz, to rock ‘n roll, to hip hop.
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 1993.

From the Archives

From the Archives: Mac Wiseman and the Country Boys - L-R:Chubby Collier; Mac Wiseman; Wade Macey (age 17); Enos Johnson - 1953. Photo donated by Wade Macey.

From the Archives: Mac Wiseman and Lester Flatt at Bean Blossom in 1971. Photo by Ron Petronko.

“Overall I feel fortunate to have been accepted for myself over the years. I don’t have to look for a gimmick and that’s one thing that’s different from any other phase of the music business. This is a segment of the public you don’t hardsell to. They might not even be able to explain why they like you, but they like you period.”
“Mac Wiseman: Remembering,” from interviews with Doug Green, Muleskinner News, July, 1972.
“Bluegrass musicians are serious musicians and shouldn’t be presented in a manner that demeans their artistry.”
Quoted by J. Wesley Clark and J. Michael Hosford in “Mac Wiseman: Once More with Feeling,” Bluegrass Unlimited, August, 1987.
“In those days you had to be a salesman as well as a singer. It was still in that P.I. [per inquiry] business where you were pitching off the station, working on the percentage. The baby chicks, the rose bushes, the strawberries, the Christmas tree decorations, and patent medicines, and subscriptions to magazines – that really was the only way you could make a living. The harder you pitched, the more you sold and you got a cut off each order."
Quoted by Charles Wolfe and Eddie Stubbs in liner notes to ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered, Bear Family Records, 2003.