Mighty Sam McClain 1943-2015

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Thursday 25th June 2015

Mighty Sam McClain dies in New Hampshire aged 72

AMERICAN blues, gospel and soul singer Mighty Sam McClain died on 15th June 2015 in New Hampshire. The 72 year-old Grammy-nominated artist suffered a stroke. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, McClain was singing in his mother's gospel church by the age of five. By 15 he was working the chitlin' circuit with R&B guitarist Little Melvin Underwood. In 1966, discovered by record producer Papa Don Schroeder, McClain began recording a series of singles leased to Bell/Amy Records. None of them charted and by the '70s he was working in Nashville and New Orleans doing whatever low-wage menial work he could find. In 1988 his near dormant music career took an upturn when soul music devotees in Japan showed an interest in his music. Now sporting blues and gospel in his repertoire, he went to Japan and recorded a live album with renowned guitarist Wayne Bennett.

McClain eventually settled in New England where he collaborated on the Hubert Sumlin Blues Party project. He later signed with Telarc Blues after a stint with AudioQuest Music and Sledgehammer Blues. Throughout his career he recorded 17 albums including 'Your Perfect Companion', 'Give It Up To Love', 'Soul Survivor: The Best Of Mighty Sam McClain', 'Sweet Dreams', 'One More Bridge To Cross' and the recordings 'Scent Of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilizations' and 'A Deeper Tone Of Longing: Love Duets Across Civilizations' with the Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat on the Kirkelig Kulturverksted label. The title track of his 2012 album 'Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey)' was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the 'Best Song' category.

In one of his last interviews he said, "To me, making music is all about freedom. I believe I have a gift from God and I've worked hard all my life to pursue my own vision of it. This is what I do, and I'm going to keep doing it as long as God gives me breath."

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Jim Mc Keever in Belfast, Northern Ireland @ 19:34 on Jul 21 2015

I was introduced to the wonderful music Of Mighty Sam back in 1988 when at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. I always made a point of seeing him when ever he was playing Jazz Fest. I only just heard of his death (21st of July) on Jamie Cullum's BBC Radio 2, Jazz program. The world was a richer place because of his music. RIP

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