Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Mark Schultz - Blasting Off

  • 2000 3 May
Mark Schultz - Blasting Off

The debut project from singer, songwriter, and youth pastor Mark Schultz is one of the coolest and most captivating releases to come from a new artist in a long while. We'd love to help you get to know him a little better through reading his story. The first radio single from the project, "I Am The Way," has already reached number one. Many more hits are sure to follow, but more importantly, a heart for ministry permeates his message in music.
Raised in the rural farming community of Colby, Kansas, Mark Schultz - who was adopted into his family at 2 weeks of age - excelled in track, football and basketball. But his skill in sports was evenly matched by an emerging musical talent. Mark was as a member of the high school's jazz group. He joined the show choir in college and eventually was spotlighted as a solo performer on the group's tours. Behind the scenes, Mark was quietly honing his skills as a songwriter.

"It's just not like me to pack up all my bags and head somewhere," says Mark of the first step in his musical adventure. "I came to Nashville, and I didn't know why. I wanted to do music. but that wasn't working out," he remembers. "It was like God telling me I had to die to all that stuff." God seemed to be asking him to set aside his dreams of a music career, but instead He opened a door Mark had never even thought about.

When a friend gave Mark a youth pastor's name to call as a contact in town, Mark tossed it aside and kept waiting tables at a local hotel. "The last thing I wanted to be was a youth director," he laughs. But nearly a year later, Mark suddenly found himself face-to-face with the same youth pastor, Mark DeVries, who happened to sit at one of Mark's tables. "He told me, 'You need to work with kids.' " And since there was no denying God's voice in the matter, that's what Mark did, and soon fell in love with his new mission. Chasing a musical dream gave way to sparking real change in the lives of young people.

It was DeVries, his mentor, who eventually nudged Schultz back toward his first love - music. Soon Mark was bringing not only his time and attention to the youth at church, but also his songs. In fact, most of his lyrics revolve around the lives of the people he met and worked with in his role as youth leader. Concerts at First Presbyterian started becoming regular capacity-crowd events.

In a move that took faith, guts and a little madness, Schultz single-handedly organized and produced a benefit concert at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium. Surprisingly, his leap of faith netted not only a full house of enthusiastic fans but also a sizable donation to the evening's charity. His efforts that night - along with his talent - also brought him a management and recording agreement.

His new Myrrh album, the self-titled ==Mark Schultz==, features the production talents of Monroe Jones ({{Third Day}}, {{Chris Rice}}, {{Margaret Becker}}, {{Ginny Owens}}, Wes Cunningham, {{Watermark}}) along with some of Nashville's finest studio musicians. Rocketown songstress Ginny Owens lends her vocals to the ballad "Remember Me," and throughout the album, Schultz's admiration of such singer-storytellers as Billy Joel, Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor comes through in his memorable melodies mixed with tender tales of the heart.

Group anthems like the high-energy "Let's Go" and "I Am the Way" are evidence of the youth leader's ability to kick a crowd into high gear. "Cloud of Witnesses" and the emotion-ridden ballad/prayer "He's My Son" are drawn from the experiences of Mark's fellow church members, while a forgotten Mother's Day card birthed the sentimental tribute to his mom, "When You Come Home."

Mark Schultz combines solid songwriting with an engaging vocal delivery, but no matter what happens with "this music thing," Mark says he will always have his hand in the work of his church and hopes to be an integral part of its youth group. As he sees his career in music, "It's like a Ferris wheel. You get on and ride, and when your time's done, you get off."

"I'm excited about being in Christian music. Here you can do what you love, which is sing and still minister," he says of his new life. "When you keep your focus on God, you keep your focus off yourself, and hopefully that makes your path straighter and you know why you're here and that you're doing it for the right reasons."

There's a reason for everything, and right now for Mark Schultz, what started as a "What do You want me to do, God?" question has become a musical odyssey.