US blues star Mighty Sam McClain and Norwegian guitarist, harmonica player, pianist. singer and producer Knut Reiersrud have teamed up on what was sadly to become Mighty Sam's final recording before he passed away after a battle with cancer a few weeks before its release.
Mighty Sam McClain and Knut Reiersrud dedicated themselves to the music of the deep south and have given impressive proof that, when it comes to playing hard-driven R&B, soul or blues, it's not where you come from that's important.
On June 16, 2015 Mighty Sam McClain passed away. 'Tears Of The World' is his last album and will remain as a vital part of his recorded legacy. The Blues & Soul world lost an outstanding artist.
A Grammy nominated musician, Mighty Sam McClain had been singing the blues for more than a half a century, tinged with an energy-boosting helping of soul. Since the deaths of Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge and of McClain's great inspiration, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, the soul preacher and blues-man has held the status of the only surviving R&B singer of the first generation.
Reiersrud and McClain selected the songs on 'Tears Of The World' together. The two men have included classics from the repertoire of legendary R&B labels such as Hi Records, a country number from Carlene Carter, and 'Que Sera, Sera' not exactly a typical blues song, which is given the full rock apotheosis treatment. There are also, as is to be expected, several songs written by Sam McClain and by Knut Reiersrud/Jeff Wasserman.
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Sam passed away in June, and he had suffered a severe stroke back in April. He was 72. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, at ﬁve years old he sang in his mother's Gospel Church. He left home when he was thirteen and followed local R&B guitarist, Little Melvin Underwood through the Chitlin' circuit, ﬁrst as his valet and then as lead vocalist himself at 15.
While singing at a club in Florida, he met record producer and DJ, Papa Don Schroeder and in 1966, McClain recorded a cover version of Patsy Cline's 'Sweet Dreams' which hit the charts. Several recording sessions at Muscle Shoals produced further singles, 'Fannie-May' and 'In the Same Old Way'.
For ﬁfteen years, ﬁrst in Nashville, then in New Orleans, McClain held down manual jobs. He toured and recorded in Japan in 1989; 'Live in Japan' featured Wayne Bennett.
By the early 1990s, McClain relocated to New England through his participation in the 'Hubert Sumlin Blues Party' project. This led to Joe Harley and AudoQuest Music. The results were the successful releases, "Give It Up To Love' and 'Keep On Movin'. After his move to New Hampshire, he released "Sledgehammer Soul," and "Down Home Blues.' In 1998 McClain had two releases, 'Journey' and "Joy & Pain' on the CrossCut Record label. "Soul Survivor: The Best of Mighty Sam McClain' was his farewell to AudioQuest in 1999. McClain signed on with Telarc Blues in 1999, taking his longtime producer Joe Harley with him, and recorded the Blues Music Award nominated "Blues for the Soul" (2000) and "Sweet Dreams' (2001).
In 1996, McClain formed McClain Productions after successfully co-producing his albums with Joe Harley. He also created his own record label, Mighty Music, which released 'One More Bridge To Cross' in February 2006. 'Betcha Didn't Know' was issued in July 2009 on Mighty Music. It was nominated by the Blues Association as 'SouI/Blues Abum 2010'.
In 2008, McClain joined the "Give US Your Poor," project, beneﬁting the homeless. He worked with this project, performing at both Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, and at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and other venues. In early 2009, McClain recorded an album of duets with the Iranian folk singer, Mahsa Vahdat. The resulting album, 'Scent of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilizations" reached number six in the European World Music Chart. McClain and the producer/guitarist for this project, Knut Reiersrud, later collaborated on the album, 'One Drop is Plenty' recorded in Norway in January 2011.