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Who McDonald Craig
What McDonald Craig, First and Only Black Singer to Win Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Talent Festival in 1978 dies at 90
When September 26, 2021
Where Linden, TN

Mr. McDonald Craig, 90, of Linden passed away Sunday September 26, 2021 at Perry County Nursing Home. He was born in the Lick Creek Community to the late Newt Craig and Conna McDonald Craig on the estate of William Riley Craig and Elizabeth Craig. He was a United States Army Veteran. When the Korean conflict broke out in the 1950's he enlisted and was appointed the Head Gunner on the Recoilless Rifle Team. For his bravery, he was awarded the Bronze Star. McDonald very often entertained his fellow troops during breaks in the fighting with his singing.

McDonald started his working career at the young age of 10 years primarily in the Timber and Lumber Industry. In 1958, he married his high school sweetheart, Rosetta Smith.

He had some great accomplishment in the Country Music Industry, as he won the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Talent Festival in Meridian, Mississippi in 1978. The first and only black person to do so in the history of the contest. This contest was a big deal, both Charlie Pride and Elvis Presley had entered and failed to place! A year after winning the contest, McDonald was offered a record deal by RCA which he promptly said "NO" to. He did not want to be constantly on the road.

In 2009, The State House of Representatives recognized him with a Special Commendation as being a Legendary Country Music Performer. He was called an "Exemplary Country Singer who has inspired and uplifted audiences with his unique musical style for decades".

During this same year, he was invited to Murfreesboro, where a group of grade school students surprised him by performing his original composition, My Home in Tennessee.

Throughout the years he performed with Boxcar Willie, Johnny Russell, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart just to name a few of the performers he played with.

In addition to his parents he is also preceded in death by his sister Helen Craig Smith and brothers Roy Lynn Craig, Newt Craig, Jr. and Ray Craig.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years Rosetta Smith Craig, sons Reginald Craig of White House, Tn., and Ervin Craig of Linden, grandsons Patrick and Brian Craig, sisters Dr. Carolyn Briggs of Nashville and Reba Craig of Altadena, California, and a host of other loving family members and many, many friends.

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