Interview: Regina McCrary on Recent Live CD and the Bob Dylan Years


***note: this interview was recorded last year; presumed lost, and recently discovered

When Regina McCrary of the McCrary Sisters answered the phone in her Nashville home, Americana Highways was greeted by the excited sounds of her 4 miniature schnauzers, the youngest one, she said, “is named after my close friend Buddy Miller.”

The McCrary sisters have a recent album and DVD to celebrate. “Live from Nashville,” (Soundly Music) recorded at Nashville’s famed 3rd and Lindsley venue; and produced by Tommy Sims (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt). “People have told us that our CDs are good but that they are nothing compared to witnessing our live shows. That’s why we did this live album. And we went a step further and also made a DVD of the same live show.”

“All the songs on the album are our original songs, except “I’ll Take You There.“ We picked some of our favorites, and then each one of the four sisters contributed one song that she had written about her own individual struggle. Ann wrote, “Help Me” about how we all need help sometimes, no matter what our position is in life. The song Alfreda wrote, “I Believe,” is about this concept that if you believe things will work out, then you don’t have to worry about the small daily concerns, because things will turn out all right.” The song [Regina] wrote, “David,“ reminds us that like David in the story of David and Goliath, we don’t have to cower in fear, we can stand up and dance in the face of adversity and rejoice and abundance will come to us. Deborah wrote “Let It Go“ in response to overcoming the effects of a stroke.”

Regina McCrary has more to celebrate in her own career. A little over a year ago, Bob Dylan released the “Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Volume 13” (Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings) box set album of his gospel era live recordings, in which Regina McCrary (then Regina Havis) was prominently featured.

Recalling her audition for Bob Dylan way back when, McCrary says when she began to sing “Amazing Grace,” Dylan jumped up and said “That’s it!” and she was hired on the spot. Regina shrugs it off, saying simply that “God had to put the right people around Bob Dylan at that time.” Newsweek says of McCrary: ““Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One” the take from ’79, featuring singer Regina McCrary, has a depth of soul that might have been hard to re-create in the studio.”

I asked about the McCrary Sisters opening for Jason Isbell at the Ryman Auditorium in October ’17, and she said: “opening for Jason Isbell was absolutely awesome. My sisters and I looked forward to doing this with Jason ever since we got first word of it.  This is how I look at it: any time you have an artist willing to share their stage it is very humbling.”

Of their connection to the Americana Music Associaion, McCrary commented: “We have been part of the Americana Music Awards House band for 6 years,” she says, “and when we play shows there we invite the Holy Spirit in so the shows are about much more that just us singing, they are about lifting people up.”

Regarding playing at the Ryman Auditorium, she reminds us that, “It is called the Mother Church and every artist that graces the stage of that place respects that title.  It’s a place where it doesn’t matter what kind of music you play, it is a very beautiful peaceful place.”

McCrary is an ordained minister and she thinks a lot about beauty and peace, and music’s role in bringing that about.   “No matter what you’re going through on any particular day, music has the transforming power to take you to a place – spiritually, mentally – and give you love, hope, and happiness. Music has the ability to let you be still, let go of all of your problems, and find some real peace.”

Her advice is uplifting: “The best time to help somebody else when you are struggling yourself. That’s when we can truly understand each other’s suffering. God blesses you in order for you to help others, and when you do that He will increase your blessings. But if you just sit on your blessings and live in fear, you will lose them.”

As for the responsibilities each of us have to one another, she remarked that: “People are all different, we have circles, boxes, zigzags, triangles and I believe we should celebrate the differences between us. It doesn’t matter if you were a rich or poor, it doesn’t matter if you went to Yale or you are in jail, the point is that we are all one and if we would just learn how to celebrate each other and love each other we would all be happier.  Sadly we have people in high places who want us to be separated and judged.  But when we stand before God, he’s not going to ask for anybody’s autograph.”

Check out the McCrary Sisters’ music and tour dates here:

For Bob Dylan’s boxed set featuring Regina McCrary (Havis), look here:




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