Jack McCray: A Tribute


Sometimes the most inspiring of people, shaping our city in hugely significant ways, leaves us too soon. Jack McCray, local jazz icon and founding board member of Jazz Artists of Charleston, leaves behind a legacy that will forever impact Charleston…

“I wasn’t done learning from him or laughing with him. We still had another lunch, another drink, and I wanted to wear his hat one last time. The sense of loss is huge, but what a privilege to know that man and photograph his passion. My last memory of Jack was from A Night at the Coppa. That rascal was dancing with four of us ladies to Tumbao – the only man on the dance floor – and he was so very happy surrounded by friends and the music he loved!”

- Reese Moore, photographer

“The first thing that caught me about Jack was his name – I’ve always wanted my future son to bear the name Jack. But in my 20s, I actually paid attention – this man seamlessly brought together not just musicians, but races – a real unifier. I’d be honored to father a son like that someday. Carry on Jack.”

- Corey Webb, musician

“I remember when Jack came on my show to publicize his book, “Charleston Jazz,” he was so humble and caring. His beautiful smile came across the screen so fabulously and every time I saw him, he would give me a big hug. He was a rarity in this town, someone with a mind filled with music and its history and whose passion it was to share with all types of people. He will be missed.”

- Ryan Nelson, PR & Media Consultant

“Jack is a giant in the Charleston music scene. A promoter, author, emcee, and music director is how most of us have grown to know and love Mr. McCray. I will forever remember his big smile and his warm voice. Jack has a way of making you feel welcome. A true jazz statesman, Jack will forever be an example for us all… an example of living a life dedicated to musical excellence, sincerity, and authenticity.

God’s peace and love to you and your family, Jack McCray!”

- Wilton Elder, musician

“Though I didn’t know the man personally, his presence in Charleston reminded me that there truly are good people in this world. Whenever you read a McCray article or heard one of his stories, you couldn’t help but to feel the same sense of joy that he did. That’s a true gift, one that won’t be replaced. Cheers, jazzman.”

-Will Bullock, graphic designer

“Jack was a friend of mine. Charleston is a lesser city with him not in it. We would drink together every few weeks…talk about writing over beers and bourbon. He wrote like he talked. He knew Charleston better than she knew herself. He will be missed.”

- Patrick Rhyne, copy writer

“Jack McCray held a great wisdom and character that made one unknowingly want to respectfully listen to whatever he was about to say. He was also very kind. I always looked forward to seeing him on any occasion.”

-Nick Jenkins, musician

“He was a friend, brother and mentor. He was also the definition of cool. Jack McCray was the embodiment of the spirit of Charleston – I will miss seeing him at Charleston Grill, I’ll miss his laugh, I’ll miss his guidance and professionalism.

His jazz column was the smartest thing I did as an editor. I often got positive feedback about the column from everyday folks – in grocery stores, on the street and elsewhere. People connected to Jack. Jack connected to people.

I rejoice in the fact that his spirit is home. But we will all miss him so much.”

- Marcus Amaker, editor