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Mattie Lee Mack (Mrs. Mack) Died At Age 81 In 1998 - Re-Post of Washington Post Article
***Photo Courtesy of James Anthony AKA Slim Jim***
By Alona Wartofsky ***July 31, 1998***
Mattie Lee Mack, 81, a longtime fixture on the local go-go music scene, died of a blood clot in her lung July 25 at Providence Hospital.
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Mrs. Mack, who was known in the go-go community as "Miss Sis," was the grandmother of two former Rare Essence band members, James Thomas (who performs as Jas. Funk) and the late Quentin "Footz" Davidson. She was unofficially considered the godmother of the entire band and, by extension, the local go-go scene for much of the last two decades.
Rare Essence, the most successful and enduring of area go-go acts, got its start during the mid-1970s in the basement of the Mack home in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Anacostia. At that time, Mrs. Mack was working as an elevator operator for the U.S. Postal Service. She and her husband, Nathaniel E. Mack, purchased the band's instruments with their savings. After retiring from the Postal Service in 1984, she worked full time as the band's treasurer and co-manager.
Chuck Brown, the go-go pioneer who produced Rare Essence's first record, said Mrs. Mack had an enormous impact on the group. "She pushed that band and carried that band, and she was always behind them to make sure everything was right," Brown said. Without her, he said, "I don't think the band would have been as solid, or had that longevity and the success."
For years, it seemed that whenever Rare Essence played, Mrs. Mack and her daughter, Annie Mack Thomas, would greet concertgoers in the box office as admissions were collected. Mrs. Mack would sing out the ticket price like a carnival barker. She greeted hundreds of fans by name.
"She was like a mother figure," said James Thomas. "She would congratulate people coming in if they told her something positive, and scold them if they came in with something negative. She would get on the girls who came in without enough clothing on, and get on people that she knew were abusing drugs or drinking too much."
When Rare Essence played larger shows in hotel ballrooms or at Capital Centre, Mrs. Mack would often dress head to toe in red and white, the band's official colors. Since its founding, Rare Essence has appeared throughout the Washington area, often playing as many as five nights a week. Recently, the band released its seventh album, "We Go On and On."
Mrs. Mack was born in Wrens, Ga., in 1917. She moved to Washington in 1936.
She was a longtime member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Southeast Washington, where she served as an usher.
Her first husband, K.C. Boyd, died in 1947. Her second husband, Nathaniel Mack, died in 1983.
Survivors include her daughter, Annie Mack Thomas of Clinton; five stepdaughters, Irene Morgan of Atlanta, Helen Mayeris of Augusta, Ga., Jean Payton of Silver Spring, Katie Owens of Upper Marlboro and Mary Hickerson of Casa Grande, Ariz.; two stepsons, Frank Boyd of Richmond and Grant Boyd of Wrens; three grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
Washington Post Archives
Categories: GoGo Flix
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