Recently I was fortunate to run into a very talented and soulful artist who has had a career spanning over five decades of change. Mighty Sam McClain as his name implies has weathered many musical storms like a “Mighty” oak tree and still plays as if not a day has passed. His journey has stood the test of time through extreme racism in the 60s to holding steadfast to his musical vision during disco. Even today as the Internet turns music upside down, Mighty Sam continues to focus on playing rather than joining the computer generation. It is artists like Sam that remind me how important it is to focus on my craft. The music and our personal vision for what it is that we need to say; the creative contribution to our music culture should be all consuming. The distractions of making our art lucrative and popular distort the artists perception of self and innovation. If you stand back and look at music today you start to see a pattern. There are those who hit hard and go out fast like a flaming ball streaking through the sky into the deep vast cold ocean disappearing forever. And there those who take things slowly, steadily, working from the heart and soul. These are the true artists and they will be there to seize the day. Carpe diem my friends.
Getting to know Mighty Sam McClain::
Newmarket , NH
Jacqueline: How did you get your start in music?
Sam: I started singing in public when I was five at church with my mother’s group. I loved the attention and still do!
Jacqueline: Tell me about your song “Praise”
Sam: I just recorded, “Praise”, it is a song about me, my mam, my dad and God. I left home looking for my dad, but God showed up instead. It is very moving and inspirational as well, I think.
Jacqueline: What’s the music scene like in New Hampshire ?
Sam: The music in my small time is all geared toward the college crowd from the nearby University of NH. If I need live music, Boston is the closest and best! The best thing I like to do is work on my music and performing.
Jacqueline: What do you like about social media? Have you found any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
Sam: My wife handles our social media with help. I don’t know much about it and never touch the computer. In fact, my wife is typing this for you right now. I think in a way although it is supposed to bring people together but I think it is less human. It is a help to emerging artists but I emerged over 50 years ago!!
Jacqueline: Why do you think it’s so hard for indie artists to break into the mainstream big markets and gain a solid fan base?
Sam: Money, Money, Money – without the funds to properly promote, print, radio and internet they can’t get heard, they can’t get gigs that pay enough to support them or keep them on the circuit, whatever it may be. It still is a business controlled from the top down. You have to know the right people, do the right thing musically to get to a position to have an agency and label support. They don’t do things as they used to and that has been hard for me to adjust to. It is an almost pay to play atmosphere and the music suffers.
Jacqueline: How do you want to be remembered for your music?
Sam: The legacy that I hope to leave are the words of my music. They are meant to inspire , educate and uplift all while having fun! I want to be remembered as an artist who was true to his beliefs and one who stood on his principals.
Jacqueline: Artists who seek to make their art a career often face challenges that question their sense of purpose and creativity..
Do you find that there is to much emphasis on being current and trendy or Is there a balance that you have found helpful in your artistic decisions?
Sam: I was black in the sixties and it was harder then and it still is. Racism still exists as recent tragedies show.
Jacqueline: What is your experience with negative energy?
Sam: Negative energy – how do you stop it. For years I had producers tell me that my music didn’t need horns. I knew it did and fought until I got them even though it meant less money for me.
Jacqueline: How do you remove the monetary value as a means of influence over your music?
Sam: The money can’t be factored out, but in my writing my heart and soul don’t answer to money. Sure it’s an influence, but I’ve been around for a long time and it is the way it is. Disco almost killed me! Promoters always want to know what you have done lately. The world misses a lot of great music that way and genres discrimination causes much music to be lost, too.
Jacqueline: Are you religious? Do you believe in fate?
Sam: I am a spiritual person. I believe in individual experience with God and good. There are no guarantees—being positive helps, but good living helps, too. We are all part of a human chain that all live in one place together and are needing to take care of one another. No one is free until all are free.
Jacqueline: What are you thankful for?
Sam: I am thankful for my wife, family, friends and my voice which allows my music to be heard as it was given to me. I believe that my voice is a gift I am blessed with.
Jacqueline: Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Sam: I would hope 5 years from now to be traveling the world, performing before audiences, writing and recording more music and enjoying my loved ones.
Jacqueline: What do you want most ?
Sam: I want most to continue writing, recording and performing. It has been my life and has given me the greatest satisfaction and happiness. Love, peace, family, music and $$ helps!
Jacqueline: Have you ever stepped back to look at the bigger picture of who you are and where you fit in this world?
Sam: I probably do it daily, finding that I play a very small part in the big picture. I’m still discovering myself. The more I learn the more I find I don’t know and what I have yet to learn is too BIG even for thought!
Jacqueline: In your opinion what is the best way for someone to discover what they are good at and or what will make them happy? Sam: Try what you think you are really good at, make sure you really like or love it, learn all you can about it, try it out on other folks and then go for it.
Jacqueline: How do you handle conflict in your life?
Sam: All conflicts are not the same. Sometimes you can just talk things out, sometimes the situation requires quiet or being cool and sometimes you just have to fight.
Jacqueline: Do you feel that there is anything that prevents you from achieving your ultimate success?
Sam: There are always hills, mountains, rivers and deserts that get in the way of any life or career. They produce desperation, sadness, frustration, loss of hope – all of these keep us hostage. Overcoming these is the goal.
Jacqueline: What is your personal definition of success?
Sam: Success= love, family, work, health and as always , money helps!
Jacqueline: Do you feel that you have limits to what you can do and achieve?
Sam: There are always limits to success – rich or poor. Life itself limits success.
Jacqueline: If heaven exists what’s the first thing you would like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Sam: I’m sorry and I love you!
Sam released his first solo production, “One More Bridge To Cross” in 2003, followed by “Betcha Didn’t Know” in 2009. He has just completed, “Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey)” which is as yet, unreleased. In 2007 he devoted his time to the “Give US Your Poor” project. He recorded with Natalie Merchant for the CD and wrote and performed a duet with Jon Bon Jovi, “Show Me The Way”.
“The Soul of America” is his European title, but he is, just as the lyrics he wrote, “I’m a singer, a man with a song…and I’ve got a message for you