Born and raised on a sharecroppers’ farm in Pelzer, South Carolina and one of thirteen children, Arnold grew up in a world where blues music did not exist, at least to his devoutly religious parents. After his introduction to the “wireless” radio of a childhood friend, Arnold fell in love with the blues, especially the blues being broadcast from Chicago. In 1966, he joined the Muddy Waters band in Chicago, performing the electric blues that helped evolve the growing Rock and Roll movement. Performing and recording with many of the greatest blues musicians of his time, Arnold was able to fully immerse himself the music. Arnold, with the help of his Muddy Waters bandmates, was able to secure a job as a musician on the TV series Soul Train and later, as an editor for NBC who traveled on location to produce national programs.
Returning to South Carolina and his family farm in the late 1980s, Arnold did not give up his love for playing the blues. After ten years and much encouragement by harmonica player Max Hightower, Arnold began performing in earnest again. Hightower assembled a special group of musicians that complemented Arnold’s style and knowledge to form Mac Arnold and A Plate Full O’ Blues. The group recorded their first CD in January of 2005 and have since enjoyed a surge in popularity, topping charts at home and internationally. Arnold combines his love and passion for the blues and provides a key link between South Carolina and the national blues scene. Arnold was able to bring his experiences in Chicago to his rural South Carolina roots to create a brand new sensation in traditional Piedmont Blues. Arnold received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2006.