Mark Harris: The one time 4Him singer now a soloist and worship pastor

Friday 25th November 2011

Tony Cummings chronicles the life of an Alabama-based worship pastor who has sold millions of records, MARK HARRIS

Mark Harris
Mark Harris

Mark Harris is a worship pastor at the Bay Community Church in Spanish Fort, Alabama. But Mark is no stranger to the upper echelons of the music industry. Between 1990 and 2004 he was a member of 4Him, one of the most successful vocal groups in the history of Christian music. The stats are amazing. 4Him won Mark eight Dove Awards and Mark penned an astonishing 24 Christian radio number one hits. Since 2005 Mark has been a solo artist and last month Stylos/13 Star Records released the singer/songwriter's fourth solo album. Mark admits that 'Stronger In The Broken Places' is his most personal project of his entire career. The award-winning songsmith said, "I chose some of the most personal and purpose-filled songs that I had written for this album. It is the product of a good bit of patience on my part, a lot of listening. I am excited to be able to offer it to others now and to hear what kind of impact it will have in their lives as they take time to reflect on what God is doing in them."

After his years of constant on-the-road touring with 4Him, Mark's less arduous lifestyle has contributed greatly to the songwriting process. "Being at home, investing in my family and in the community around me, meant that I was also able to slow down long enough to hear the Lord speak some new things into my heart. After so many years on the road I was finally able to unpack my bags, and what I found was God prodding me to be patient, to let him take the lead in every aspect of my life. I felt strongly that he wanted me to take my time and that he wanted to give me new direction, and as I trusted him I felt the Holy Spirit ushering me, and my music, into this new season. He has really refreshed and reinvigorated my desire to write and my desire to touch people through music."

Mark began his music career in the church choir. From there, he moved to a college choir, then to a vocal group and finally to 4Him, who throughout the '90s were the most popular male vocal group in CCM. Each of the group - Mark Harris, Andy Chrisman, Marty Magahee and Kris Sullivan - was an accomplished soloist and their switched leads gave them a sound that had a tinge of Southern gospel, a bit of boy band R&B and some of the slickest production Nashville could offer. Albums like 'Face The Nation' (1991), 'The Basics Of Life' (1992), 'The Season Of Love' (1993), 'The Ride' (1994), 'The Message' (1996) and 'The Obvious' (1998) ensured they were seldom off America's Christian radio playlists. In fact, Mark's first solo album, 2005's 'The Line Between The Two', was recorded in the midst of 4Him's hectic touring schedule. At the time of its release on Sony Records, Mark said, "When you're doing a solo album there are more freedoms because it's just you. That part of it was a blast. Of course, with more freedom comes more responsibility. I didn't have three other guys. It was just me and the producer."

'The Line Between The Two' was a striking example of singer/songwriter craft and contained two Cross Rhythms turntable hits, "For The First Time" and "Hello To Goodbye". It also made 14 in the US Christian charts. It was two years before Mark followed it up with 'Windows And Walls', released on INO. On its release Mark told Christian Retailing magazine, "If you want to know where an artist's mind and heart is at, listen to their songs. 'Windows And Walls' does not point the finger at other people. It's me saying, 'This is my struggle,' a struggle that must be lived out among friends and family. The truth of who we are is told in the eyes and the hearts of the people we live with. Mark Harris is not necessarily the guy people see on stage, but the true identity of who I am is the guy my wife and kids see at home. If I don't live it in front of them - or if all I say in an interview like this isn't backed up with the life that I live in that house - I'm pretty shallow."

Mark Harris: The one time 4Him singer now a soloist and worship pastor

It was another two years before Mark released another album, the Christmas project 'Christmas Is'. And now 'Stronger In The Broken Places' is being acclaimed as possibly his best work yet. The title track and first single came to Mark after talking with a friend about a conversation he'd had with his doctor. "Once a bone breaks in one place, most likely it will never break there again - I just loved that idea. We all hurt and struggle, but when you heal, you will be stronger because of what you know, so there is beauty in the suffering."

Another beautifully crafted song on the album is "All Things New". Said Mark, "I didn't want to push the automatic button and do what I'd done before with this album, so this song felt like a good fit for this project. There are new places I've gone to lyrically and musically here - this album is wide-ranging in terms of style."

As a worship pastor Mark is very aware of the absolute necessity to be a worshipper not just in song but in every aspect of our lives. Mark spoke about the track "Cold Water", a song co-written with Tony Wood. "Tony brought me the lyrics to 'Cold Water' and I was just really convicted by them. I've always said that worship is how we live our lives seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but this lyric really challenged me in new ways. I can lead worship and be a Christian artist, but if that's all I do, I'm failing." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Betty Abell in Biloxi, MS @ 20:40 on Sep 22 2016

I love your song, One True God!

Posted by Kim bartlett in Danielsville Georgia @ 18:53 on Jun 7 2016

I bought Mark's song give you wings on iTunes and put it to a slideshow I used for my son's high school graduation.
I wanted to share it on Facebook with friends and family who were not able to attend. I would like Mark's permission. In His Name! Kim Bartlett

Posted by Loretta Fluellen in Oklahoma City, OK @ 21:21 on Oct 20 2014

I would like to know if I could get the Ride on DVD and on CD? I would also want to know if these wonderful singers will ever get back together again. I am still truly bless by their ministry.

Posted by Emem-Deborah Akpan @ 18:44 on Mar 16 2013

it's been really amazing,how God has used 4HIM as His vessels of Hour, I can proudly say...let's meet in Heaven after here and maybe if God permits we'll join the Halleluyah chorus...meanwhile I have always loved..."Lord You Reign..Everything You do always is perfect there is none like You Lord you are worthy/ holy...You are.....ruler over all the nations Lord you reign...You re soaring through all generations Lord you Reign,Right before the world began...let there be light....what ever happens in life this much you are on the Throne are ruler

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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