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Rock and roots man, Mark Heard, dies in Chicago
Contemporary Christian music lost one of its most articulate voices with the death of Mark Heard. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboard player, engineer and record producer Mark Heard died in August. He had earlier suffered heart attacks following an appearance at this year's Cornerstone Festival in Chicago.
Heard, a frequent visitor to Britain with several appearances at the Greenbelt Festival was well known as a passionate singer/songwriter. Last year Heard gained critical acclaim for his production on the Garth Hewitt album 'Lonesome Troubadour'.
Heard was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. By the '60s, Mark had formed his own folk band and was playing in coffee houses. Converted to Christianity he began to write songs about his faith and after meeting pioneering Jesus rock musician Larry Norman, Heard recorded his debut album 'Appalacian Melody' for Norman's Solid Rock Records.
A profound thinker and songwriter whose songs went way beyond evangelical sloganeering, Heard strived to develop an apologetic of Christians in the arts. In the mid-'70s he made the first of several visits to the L'Abri centre in Switzerland, run by theologian Francis Schaeffer.
Throughout the '80s Heard recorded a series of critically acclaimed albums for Home Sweet Home Records, including 'Stop The Dominoes' (1981) and 'Victims Of The Age' (1982). His Dylanesque "thinking man's rock" sometimes turned to plaintive acoustic music, as with his 'Eye Of The Storm' album (1983). In 1986 Mark surprised his followers by a radical change of direction when under the name Ideola he recorded an album of synthesizer based techno-rock for What? Records aimed at the secular market.
Heard soon returned to his folk and country roots however and many critics considered his 1990 folk/country album 'Dry Bones Dance' to be his finest work. Operating his own recording studio Fingerprint in Los Angeles, Mark produced numerous recordings including albums for Harry Browning, Steve Scott and Garth Hewitt. Hewitt, who was to have recorded a new album with the producer/engineer said of Mark, "I find it almost impossible to believe that he is dead. But I find comfort in his track 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives' that I first heard about Easter time. The truth of that song has now become a reality for Mark."