American blues and soul singer Mighty Sam McClain died on June 16, 2015. The 72 year-old Grammy nominated artist suffered a stroke and passed away according to family members.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Sam McClain started out his music career at the tender age of 5 singing gospel at church. He would leave home at 13 following what was known at the Chitlin’ Circuit and working first as an assistant to the R&B guitarist Little Melvin Underwood before taking the stage as a vocalist at 15.
In 1966 Mr. McClain would record a version of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams,” before recording singles for the Muscle Shoals recording studio like “Fannie-May” and “In the Same Old Way.” He would shuffle from the streets of Nashville, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana, many times finding only low-wage and menial work before hooking a tour of Japan in 1989 that would result in the recording Live in Japan with Wayne Bennett.
Mr. McClain would eventually settle 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 would record 17 albums that include 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.
Having struggled with homelessness and substance abuse, Mr. McClain was a performer for the homeless project Give Us Your Poor, co-wrote “Show Me the Way” with musician Scott Shelter and performed for the project at Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center, as well as performed on Songs from a Stolen Spring that paired western musicians with artists from the Arab Spring. Mr. McClain was paired with Egyptian musician Ramy Essam and the pair created a track melding “If I Can Dream” and Mr. Essam’s “Bread, Freedom.
His family has requested that condolences be sent to PO Box 322, Newmarket, NH 03857
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.