Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scotland's William MacEwan (or McEwan), the World's Sweetest Gospel Singer

I'm currently doing some research into the life of the tenor gospel singer William MacEwan (also spelled McEwan) from Glasgow. He was referred to as 'the world's first great gospel singer on record', issuing over 40 old 78rpms during his career. His first recording session was for the Columbia record company in London in November 1911, so exactly 100 years ago next month - this was the session which included my grandfather's favourite hymn, 'My Ain Countrie'.

I have a lot of information about McEwan's musical career, and of hymn books he published, but very little about his personal life - for example I've got conflicting birth dates (1870, 1872 or 1877) and death dates (1943 or 1949) for him, and no conclusive information if he was born in Bridegton in Glasgow or just outside the city. He certainly lived in Bridgeton in later life, but I have also seen a 1922 document with his address given as 90 Mevia Street, Glasgow (but can't find any other record of a street of that name ever having existed at all). I also have a reference to him dying and being buried in Los Angeles (in 1949) So this post is just to see if anyone out there knows much about him and would be interested in helping.

I will post what musical information I have in November. Maybe someone out there knows of a fuller biography? A man of his calibre and influence deserves to be remembered in the year of his centenary.



fransav said...

funny i have not heard of him and i was born in bridgeton stayed there fifty years will try find out about him. thanks the only famous singer i heard was frankie miller he to came from bridgeton

fransav said...

never heard of him i stayed in was born in bridgeton stayed there for fifty years will try find out about him only famous singer i knew about was frankie miller who was born and stayed in bridgeton also.hope to find out some more thanks

fransav said...

could william mcewans mevia street be closest i could find be minerva st

Mark Thompson said...

Fransav - thanks for your comments. I've since found a mountain of information about William MacEwan, so I'm going to try to pin down the last few missing details (the death dates of him and his wife Jeanie) and will then post a series of articles about his life.

He was born on 11th December 1871. The first address I have for him, from his marriage certificate of 1890, is 88 Brook Street Glasgow. In 1892 they were living at 171 Wolseley Street in Govan, and in 1901 they were at 59 Landressy Street. In 1908 they were at Dalburn Street, Parkhead. That was the year they headed for the USA to begin the evangelistic singing work.

Will start posting it all here around the start of November.