Rest in Peace, Mac

by Jerry Wicentowski

I’m grieved to mark the passing of Mac Wiseman on Sunday February 24th, 2019. He was blessed with a beautiful voice, but it was he who developed this gift. Through his tone, breadth of his tenor range, his phrasing, and his emotion he was able to bring audiences to tears. Mac’s voice was his main instrument, and he found numerous musical genres and collaborators through which to demonstrate its universality.

I too was blessed—by having the opportunity to meet Mac very late in his life. He agreed to meet me because I had completed a recording of his songs. I sought to express my gratitude to him for his inspiration and instruction. I’d first seen him perform live in my late teens, and spent countless hours listening to his recordings by myself. I considered these my “private lessons” with Mac, and I endeavored to assimilate as much of his technique as possible—while never forgetting where it came from.

When I visited Mac, he and his companion Janie were perfect hosts. Mac’s recall of the old days seemed flawless, and he openly expressed his appreciation for my efforts to continue his singing legacy. I hoped that we might meet again and explore how he developed his approach, who had influenced him, and of course, gain more insight into the colorful personalities that inhabited the first generation of bluegrass music.

It’s just a few days before I join my fellow members of the Wiseman Institute. Sunday March 3rd marks the beginning of our Bay Area tour that will feature some of Mac’s most-loved songs. I had hoped to share with him and Janie how his songs were received by some of his old fans in California. Unfortunately that won't happen, but we will do our best to preserve the memory of Mac Wiseman—as an artist and as a gracious and humble person.

Read more about the life of Mac Wiseman

Jerry Wicentowski