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Remembering the Mighty Sam McClain: Ted Drozdowski

Mighty Sam McClain Remembering the Mighty Sam McClain

"I've spent much of my life deeply studying the work of American roots artists, and I know Sam's voice was a national treasure—an instrument on par with those of Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke or his hero, Bobby Bland. He was grossly unappreciated during this lifetime, and yet his voice and songs will continue to be a beacon for everyone lucky enough to discover them. And unlike most roots artists, Sam continued to grow throughout his entire career—exploring new themes, pushing ahead into genres he'd not explored, and bringing his mastery to all of it right to the end of life. He also continued to grow as a person. Sam was not just special; he was spectacular.

Sam's depth as a song interpreter knew no boundaries. He brought life and timeless resonance to classics, like "A Change Is Gonna Come," but also gave all of his heart to his performance of Carlene Carter's "Too Proud," making her thoughtful break-up song a mirror for his own experience and sharing it unselfishly. His performances of it, live or on Give It Up To Live, raise tears in me."

- Ted Drozdowski

Ted leads American roots band Scissormen and is senior editor at Premier Guitar.
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