About The Artist
Odell McLeod simply reversed his real name which he used as a song writer to become "Mac Odell." He had a noteworthy career as a radio singer over major stations in New Orleans, Chicago and Nashville as well as recording for Mercury and King.
His compositions made an even larger impact, being recorded by such key figures as Roy Acuff, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Cowboy Copas, and Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.
A native of Roanoke, Alabama, "Mac" grew up in LaGrange, Georgia where he and a friend named John "Slim" Bassett formed a country duet act. As they approached adulthood they journeyed to New Orleans where they landed a musical job at WWL New Orleans. Later the pair went to Benton Harbor, Michigan where they met a couple of young ladies who became their wives. Slim left music, but Mac and his betrothed, Adeline Wood (later known as Little Addie), formed a new duet that later went to WJJD where they became regulars on the Suppertime Frolic.
World War II led Mac into defense work for Michigan Power Shovel, during which time he began to work at songwriting. He sent some of his work to the newly formed Acuff-Rose, which bought five of his numbers, most notably "That Glory Bound Train" and "Radio Station S-A-V-E-D" which were recorded by Acuff. Mac looked forward to renewing his career after the war.
Although Mac did not land a spot at the Grand Ole Opry, he and Addie did find work at Nashville's other 50,000 watt station WLAC. This station had a number of what became known as "studio stars" and managed to earn a living through salaried programs and sales of songbooks and other products. Mac and Addie pursued this livelihood for a decade or so, but unlike the Opry performers they did not tour much.
Other WLAC acts included Big Jeff Bess and the couple Ted and Wanda Henderson.
Mac landed recording contracts with such upcoming labels as Mercury and King, cutting eight numbers for the former company in 1949 and sixteen for the latter from 1952 until 1954. Songs included such well known sacred songs as "Thirty Pieces of Silver" and "From the Manger to the Cross," which became bigger hits when recorded by other artists. Other of his songs were recorded by better-known figures.
Among his secular recordings were "Red Ball Rocket Train" which featured Speedy Krise on Dobro and a comical look at "Penicillin," viewed by folks as a near cure-all medicine at the time.
By the late 1950's Mac had returned to Michigan and started a sign painting business. A heart attack forced his retirement. He attempted a comeback of sorts which had only modest success, but did include a couple of new albums and reissues of his old numbers which were generally considered much better.
Odell continued to live in Benton Harbor, Michigan until his death.
Credits & Sources
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