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Will McLean

Will McLean

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(47:12, 43.2MB; S1576 T77-145, T77-160, T80-12, T81-43, T85-39)

The Black Hat Troubadour.  The Father of Florida Folk.  These were the calling cards of a man who had a profound impact on his home state’s folk music tradition.

Transcript of the Introduction

The Black Hat Troubadour.  The Father of Florida Folk.  These were the calling cards of a man who had a profound impact on his home state’s folk music tradition.  Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services.  This month we will focus on one of our most prolific and influential songwriters, Will McLean.

Born just outside of Chipley, Will spent his life traveling and writing songs inspired by his experiences in and love for the Sunshine State.  He wrote his first song, “Away O’ee,” at the age of six, and went on to compose over 3,000 more songs and stories before his death in 1990.  His classic portrayals of Florida’s people and landscapes through songs such as “Hold Back the Waters,” “Osceola’s Last Words,” and “Florida Sand” are still sung today.  Will McLean received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1989, and in 1996 he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.  His legacy continues through the Will McLean Foundation as well as an annual folk festival bearing his name.

In 1963 Will made his Florida Folk Festival debut, and performed many times throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Gamble Rogers, Paul Champion, Jim Ballew, Don Grooms and many others often accompanied McLean on stage.  Let’s enjoy some highlights from Will’s appearances at the Florida Folk Festival starting with a 1963 recording of “Tate’s Hell.”