By Walt Trott
Since infancy, he’s suffered an impaired leg from Polio, but Mac Wiseman had too much backbone not to succeed. He worked twice as hard as other Appalachian farm-boys, then went on to get an education and carve out a career in show business: First as a broadcaster, then as musician for pioneers Buddy Starcher, Molly O’Day, Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe, and finally as a solo singer, hitting his stride with ballads about “Davy Crockett” and “Jimmy Brown The Newsboy.” Behind the scenes, Mac’s produced acts like Reno & Smiley, Cowboy Copas and Bonnie Guitar; became a founding father of the Country Music Association; brought the WWVA-Wheeling Jamboree back from the brink of bankruptcy; and originated the successful Renfro Valley Bluegrass Festival. As an artist, he re-emerged a college circuit favorite; was the first bluegrass star touring Europe; recorded with Big Band leader Woody Herman; helped originate 1990s’ Groovegrass Boyz with Doc Watson, Del McCoury & Bootsy Collins; cut new Millennium discs with John Prine, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, and did the last recordings with buddy Johnny Cash. Wiseman achievements include induction into the Virginia Music Hall of Fame, Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor, Country Music Hall of Fame, and National Medal of the Arts. Mac’s devotion to duty, however, cost him dearly on the home-front, though a strong faith helped him be the survivor he is today in his ninetieth year!
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