Bright Side Somewhere
The late Elmer Elijah Mackall, renowned church pianist and gospel singer, a Chesapeake Bay musician since age five, performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, was awarded first place in vocal performance through the Maryland State Arts Council and released this solo album at the age of 79 which has won international acclaim. A Bright Side Somewhere, released in 2003, features Brother Mackall's zesty performances on piano and voice. His piano accompaniment, a rhythmic fusion of ragtime and barrelhouse styles, has been widely sought after by Maryland churches for seventy years. In 2004 Brother Mackall won First Place in Vocal Performance through the Maryland State Arts Council's annual competition. In 2003 he performed at St. Mary's College of Maryland in St. Mary's City to a standing-room-only crowd of college officials and the public, some of whom came from as far away as New York City. In 2004 Mackall and three of his daughters performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. After the amputation of his second leg in 2003 Mackall continued to serve as church musician for more than one African American congregation. He recently suffered a series of mini-strokes while at the piano at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in St. Inigoes, Maryland, but within a few weeks returned to his post, an hour's journey from his home. Brother Elmer ensured that his children were good harmony singers, and in the tradition of his mother, his children performed with him in churches throughout the community. Today his children carry on the legacy by performing in three ensembles of their own, The Faith Singers, The Traveling Angels, and Hard Way Connection. Mackall was born into a tobacco sharecropping family in Calvert County, Maryland. His mother, Rosie Mackall, was known throughout the county and beyond for the power of her voice and for the ensemble formed with many of her thirteen children as mother and children traveled to churches and camp meetings throughout the region, creating a legacy remembered by elders today. Brother Mackall kept alive a repertoire of songs sung by the late Rosie Mackall, who was born in 1879. Many of these are included on A Bright Side Somewhere, which was recorded and produced by friends and folklorists Michael and Carrie Kline.