With 16 recorded projects to his credit including multiple #1 songs, the prolific Gospel songwriter, and performer, Mark Bishop returns with A Different Light. Known as an artist who honestly portrays himself and his faith through self-authored work, Bishop shares new stories in this 11 song collection. The result is an eclectic, wideranging album that focuses on themes of faith and refuge, struggle and growth.
The first single, "The Refrigerator Door" releases December 15th. It's a quirky title, but the nostalgic song gives a mental picture of how God's love can be found in the smallest things in life, and that He speaks to us in unconventional ways.
Q: Thank you Mark for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the release of your new album "A Different Light." Why do you entitle the album "A Different Light"?
Thanks! I love perusing your site. The album title, along with being a lyric in one of the songs, spoke to us in another way about how as Christians we are a different light to the world. There is a lot out there that glitters on the outside but on the inside, the bones of the thing are cold, dead and unfulfilling. But a relationship with God is exactly the opposite of that. Jesus is more than a hollow promise in bright neon. He spoke truths throughout His ministry about what actually works to give someone a meaningful and purpose-filled life. He is a different light.
Q: I love your song titles -- with my favorite being "The Devil's Playing Chess." A close favorite now is your new song "The Refrigerator Door." For our readers who have not heard it yet, what's the song about?
Isn't it amazing all of the little things that God uses to bring about big changes in our lives? The Bible is filled with such stories... the little boy who's lunch ended up feeding five thousand... the jawbone of a donkey... a rooster crowing... I think we can easily relate to the everyday things in our lives that God uses like standing dominoes that fall into place. As a songwriter, it's fun for me to look at how God can use seemingly small and insignificant circumstances to reach us. In the case of The Refrigerator Door, it's the positive effect that a child's Sunday School projects has on a hurting family that's trying to get the pieces back together.
Q: What inspires you to write?
I like to feel that it's the same thing that makes an artist create a painting or why a dancer dances or a chef creates magic in the kitchen. The Creator made a lot of little creators. We are in His image after all! God gave us all talents and I truly believe that. My wife has said before that she didn't receive any talents, but I know better. She has such wonderful love and patience for children and she showers the kids in her school with praise and love. She has a knack for it and it's such a positive thing. We all have that, whether we know it or not.
Q: You wrote all the songs on this new album. Does it take you a long time to get these songs written?
Yes and no. I write all the time, new album or not. Some songs get recorded by other artists; some never will be heard by anyone other than me. I tell folks all the time that these songs are in a way, my sermons. I just feel blessed that I'm in a place that I get to share what's in my heart about my relationship with God in such a public way. But there probably hasn't been a waking hour in my adult life that I wasn't working on a new song in some way. I guess it's like a simmering tea pot that's waiting to hit the right temperature.
Q: Of the songs on this new record, what's the song that you are the proudest of?
Ha! I like them all or they wouldn't be on the new recording! Each is different and each has something to say about a different aspect of God in our lives. Some, like Refrigerator Door, tell an intimate story about one family. Others, like More Than Enough and God Is Powerful speak to the bigness of God. Other songs cover other areas of our relationship with God. When I'm writing a song for radio or for another artist, I want that song to have a musical hook, to be catchy and easily accessible by someone who may only be half-listening. But when writing for a whole album, you're thinking of the overall listening experience, just like for a concert. You have a chance in there to wade into some deeper waters. When you look at it that way, every song is important. Or look at it like this: if the Bible were an album, John 3:16 would be the radio single. But somedays, Isaiah 41:10 is the message that you need.
Q: You also have some guests singing with you on this record. Who are they? And tell us about your experience working with them?
My dad hadn't been in the studio for seventeen years. I traveled with my dad and brother for many years in our family group and God blessed that ministry to be far-reaching. I had a song that really seemed to fit my dad and the style that he loves so much, which is "old-timey" to some. I think folks will enjoy hearing my dad sing again. He hasn't lost it at all! On another song, I asked my friend Chris Freeman to sing with me. I grew up a big fan of The Hinsons. We had recorded a song that really had that Hinson vibe throughout and the longer we thought about it, we wondered why not get Chris in the studio for a duet to really go for that feel? She knocked it out of the park as always! She has such a distinctive voice and brings a lot of energy. Looking at these two songs now, I can see where I was tapping into my own nostalgia. But you can't help but smile when you hear them both sing.
Q: In 2016, you and Forget the Sea released an album together. Any plans on following that up with a sophomore album?
That's hard to say. I can't tell you how much fun it was to create music with my two daughters and my son-in-law, and some other talented young people who have a heart for God. That album is one of my favorite things to have ever recorded. I'm really proud that we created something very fresh and different... that's no small task these days where everything musical seems to get placed in one category or another. We just created good music for the sake of creating good music. We may or may not get back to that same place where the stars aligned for it to work. If God opens the door... who knows?
Q: One of your songs on the new project is called "God is Powerful." Can you recall a time in your life where you have felt his power?
I know that many people believe that the stories in the Bible are too far removed to be reliable accounts, but I know personally that God is still a miracle working God today. First, if we don't believe that Jesus died and was resurrected from the grave, our Christianity is a hollow faith anyway. But secondly, I can remember as an eleven year old boy something wonderful that happened to me and I have never forgotten it.
After having the hiccups for about four hours where my lungs and throat were beginning to hurt, I called my Granny Bishop on the phone who was a real saint of God. She knew how to pray. Well, after a few moments of prayer, those hiccups stopped. Now some folks might call that a coincidence, but I will always believe in my heart that God sent a healing touch. I can't explain it but that's the way it happened.
I have been quite a bit sicker on many occasions since, and many times it makes no sense to us why God moves in some circumstances and not others. But on that day, with a silly little case of the hiccups, my faith was greatly increased. I am almost hesitant to relay that story because of all the people I know who are facing miserably bad health circumstances. Cancer... dementia... strokes... heart attacks... but though we all face different obstacles, it is good for our souls to know that we have a loving and caring God who is powerful with love for us. We are not alone. God walks with us even in the hard times, bringing comfort to our minds.