Getting cancer didn’t stop Wain McFarlane from singing

Wain McFarlane was once known for his long dreadlocks, until he got cancer. He has a song, “Dreadlock Cowboy,” and he sings a story about meeting a girl and falling in love. In the chorus, he sings, “I’m just a Dreadlock cowboy coming to your town.” 

“I have had three transplants, two liver transplants and one kidney transplant. I have had four types of cancer along with kidney disease, “ said McFarlane. “Prostate cancer took my hair. I wrote ‘Dreadlock Cowboy’ when I had my dreadlocks and didn’t know about my cancer.” 

McFarlane and Mark Joseph light up the Hearth Lounge for students. They came to MSU and performed in the Hearth Lounge of the CSU yesterday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and was part of the CSU’s Serendipity Concert Series, which happens every other Wednesday. 

McFarlane started to perform music from a young age. He has always been around music and has learned many different stories.  

“I was born in Kansas City, Missouri but moved to Worthington, Minnesota. My mother was a minister, so I grew up attending church and performing since I was four years old,” said McFarlane. “Performing the church, just the stories that were told were crazy. I also had a hard time reading as a youngster. So I would sing the Bible. I could sing my parts, but I got all mixed up once you asked me to read it.” 

McFarlane teaches a Black History Month series for others to learn about the history of African-American music. He has taught this for a while and said he enjoys teaching others about this history. He also teaches it with one of his former students, who worked with the Jonas Brothers for several years. Some of the things the middle schoolers said to McFarlane were how music will change and become entirely online and replace the need for live bands. 

“So we go out and talk to kids about how they perceive music to be made. We asked them how are they going to do music. I think they talked about holograms. Pretty soon, we won’t need a band; we just have to perform as holograms,” said McFarlane. “Now, on TikTok, you can play the bass, you can play the drums, you can play everything. So these things are going to be the future. So we talked about that, the history, where things came from, and about music and composers.” 

McFarlane hopes students got a lot out of his performance and learned a little bit more about Black history. 

“I hoped they paid attention and listened to the stories about simple things. All the things that they’re automatically taught and systematically. They are not done by white people or everybody in the world who has done things,” said McFarlane. “People got just spoken about, and some people weren’t. Black people and African Americans did many things in this country and around the world that were never noticed, and people are just not coming out. So that’s why we teach African American history, and some African Americans do not know these things either.” 

To learn more about upcoming Serendipity concerts, go to the MSU website and click on the university life tab. 

Header Photo: Wain McFarlane (left,) and Mark Joseph (right,) have been performing music from a young age. (Lauren Viska/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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