Lena Mae McLin (née Johnson; September 5, 1928) is an American former music teacher, composer, author, and pastor. She is also known for her career as music teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system, most notably at Kenwood Academy.
McLin was born in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of five she was sent to live with her uncle, Thomas A. Dorsey. She attended the Pilgrim Baptist Church as a child, where she was exposed to gospel music and served as an accompanist to her uncle’s choir.
McLin taught in Chicago at Hubbard High School, Harlan High School, and Kenwood Academy. At Kenwood she taught Mandy Patinkin, Deitra Farr, and Kim English. Her other students have included R. Kelly, Tammy McCann, Chaka Khan, Da Brat, Mark Rucker, Robert Sims, and Jennifer Hudson. She was called “the woman who launched a thousand careers” by art critic Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune.
R. Kelly has stated that it was McLin that convinced him to pursue a career in music over basketball, that he considers McLin his “second mother”, and that she has remained an influence in his career continuously since his high-school days. With her encouragement, R. Kelly wrote his first song, about poverty in Africa.
Mclin officially retired from teaching high school in the mid-1990s but continued teaching voice lessons. She taught for 36 years, all at Chicago area public schools. She has also given lectures at the Peabody Institute.
McLin published the book Pulse: A History Of Music in 1977. She also has a library of choral works published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company.