Country music star Mac McAnally kicks off Festival of Music

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

“It’s my job to be different than the rest and that’s enough reason to go for me

“It’s my job to be better than the best and that’s a tough break for me

“It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess and that’s enough reason to go for me

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“It’s my job to be better than the best and that makes the day for me.”

For Mac McAnally the lyrics to “It’s My Job” are more than one of his dozens of chart-topping hit songs. They are a statement of his life purpose.

Mac McAnally is one of the most respected musicians of our time, as he has proven by winning CMA Musician of the Year for an unprecedented nine years and being inducted into Nashville, Mississippi and Alabama Halls of Fame.

The Natchez Festival of Music is proud to present as our Opening Night Gala performance not only a wonderful musician, but also a wonderful and altruistic Mississippian, Mac McAnally.

This award-winning songwriter, instrumentalist, producer and artist exudes the insight and compassion that flows through his music. Despite decades of hits that include No.1 singles for Kenny Chesney, Ala., Sawyer Brown and Shenandoah, Mac seems a little uncomfortable in the spotlight, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive.

Mac was born Lyman Corbitt McAnally Jr., in Red Bay, Alabama, in 1957.

Like so many of our state’s talents, he went from playing piano and singing in church in Belmont, Miss., as a child to becoming a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where his talent for original material was discovered.

In 1977 he was signed to his first label where his debut album featuring the single “It’s a Crazy World” soared to No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. By 1980 subsequent albums “No Problem Here” and “Cuttin’ Corners” caught the attention of Jimmy Buffett. Mac is today still a songwriter for Buffett and a member of the Coral Reefer Band.

Most recently I had the privilege of conducting “Southbound,” Mac’s 16th album and his first to feature his songs arranged for symphony orchestra. Recorded with the FestivalSouth orchestra and a rhythm section that includes Mac’s colleagues in the Coral Reefer Band, Southbound doesn’t just give Mac’s skills a showcase, but it also serves worthy causes that speak personally to him: Extra Table, which brings food to the hungry in Mississippi; and the University of Southern Mississippi’s music program.

“One hundred percent of the artist and producer portions of Southbound go to the music program at the University of Southern Mississippi and to Extra Table,” he says. “For every dollar that Extra Table gets, chef and restaurateur Robert St. John buys and distributes $2 worth of food directly to kids who need it most. Some of them only eat what they get from school; they don’t really get fed over the weekend.”

The entire Natchez Festival of Music’s 2018 Season lineup is fantastic. Remember: the Festival is holding an online drawing for a free season ticket. Visit and enter to win by Wednesday. Shows are every night Tuesday through Saturday during the month of May. Tickets range from $8-$30 with discounts for Season or Main Stage packages, students and military. More information and ticket purchases are online at, or call 1-888-718-4253.

Each Saturday morning the Festival will present Children’s Events at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall at 10 a.m. Admission is free. A musical stage production of “The Three Little Pigs” is the first presentation followed by “Fairy Tales in Music,” a selection of songs from the greatest fairy tale movie musicals on May 12. May 19’s event is “A Musical Instrument Petting Zoo,” an interactive, hands-on musical experience letting kids see, touch, and hear a variety of musical instruments. On May 26 enjoy “Painting with Emotion,” a chance to draw and paint your own pictures, inspired by Music.

Please get your tickets to our Opening Gala set to start at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Join me in kicking off our 2018 Season “Sound Waves” and welcoming my friend and multi-award-winning Mac McAnally and members of the Coral Reefer band to Natchez.


Jay Dean, Ph.D., artistic director, Natchez Festival of Music.