Mac McAnally Completes A Year Of Stellar Achievements And Personal Challenge
In his first performance since his heart attack in November, Mac McAnally performs with Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires at the Country Music Hall of Fame on December 19, 2017, in Nashville, TN.
photographer: Erica M. Goldring
NASHVILLE, TENN. – Even in a career brimming with epic accomplishments, Mac McAnally will remember 2017 as a year of exceptional challenge and remarkable triumphs.
The renowned songwriter, singer and instrumental virtuoso earned high praise for Southbound, released Sept. 22 on Mailboat Records.
album cover – SouthboundAs the first of his 14 albums to feature full orchestral accompaniment, Southbound inspired Rolling Stone to laud it as “an adventurous album brimming with heart, soul and wit [that] beautifully illustrates Mississippi’s rich cultural heritage.” And Roughstock described Southbound as “a brilliant, sweeping concept” filled with “some of the best musical compositions in modern music.”
Throughout 2017 McAnally’s peers have also paid tribute to his ongoing creativity and self-effacing, generous character. In American Songwriter Kenny Chesney focused on McAnally’s songwriting, citing “the craftsmanship and the heart of his work. His melodies move through you, make you feel what he’s singing about. His lyrics put you there: the details, the senses, the truth. It’s what every songwriter aspires to.
“Mac is one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever,” adds Chesney, whose catalog of hits includes McAnally compositions “Back Where I Come From” and the chart-topping “Down The Road.”
This year another McAnally co-produced song, “This Cowboy’s Hat,” was recorded by Ned LeDoux and Chase Rice and appears on both their new albums that released in November. Originally recorded by Chris LeDoux, this performance quickly caught the attention of Rolling Stonewho noted the track as one of the “Best Country Collaborations of 2017.”
Perhaps the ultimate peer accolade also came in November, when McAnally received his ninth Country Music Association award for Musician Of The Year, an achievement that ties him with the legendary Chet Atkins for the highest number of victories in this CMA Awards category.
McAnally kept busy as a performer throughout the year as well, with highlights including his fourth appearance on NPR’s Mountain Stage in July and a September concert at the Country Music Hall Of Fame® And Museum’s Ford Theater as part of its Nashville Cats series. He also continued his long run of shows as a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.
2017 also presented McAnally with one of his greatest personal hurdles. On Nov. 13, five days after receiving his CMA Award, he suffered a heart attack. Though forced to cancel his participation at a fundraising concert headlined by Jimmy Buffett, Toby Keith, and Kenny Chesney in Tallahassee, Florida, for hurricane relief, he recovered quickly and was able to return to the stage on Dec. 19, when he made a guest appearance at a Jason Isbell concert.
photographer: James DeMain
Dates are already confirmed for 2018 and other highlights are on the books including McAnally’s induction on Feb. 3 into the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame.
“I’ve been aware and proud of the music history made in Alabama far longer than I’ve been a musician,” McAnally said. “The fact that I was lucky enough to learn from and play and sing with the legendary musicians and producers here in Alabama and especially the Shoals, has been one of the defining blessings of my life. There is no chance I would be receiving this honor without the help and friendship and patience of the entire music community. I’m truly honored and forever grateful. The Shoals is my musical home and it is especially meaningful to be honored where the music is.”