Playing Chess with the Devil? An Exclusive Interview with Mark Bishop About His New Album

Mark Bishop

Mark Bishop is poised to release his brand new Sonlite Records album "This is What It's All About."  Mark Bishop was once a member of the Southern Gospel group The Bishops.  Together, they have released 25 recordings, 27 Top 40 hits, including 12 Top 5 and 3 No. 1 songs.  As part of the Bishops, Mark has written 10 of their Top 10 songs.  On top of this, Mark has also written for artists such as The Kingsmen, Legacy Five, Brian Free and Assurance, Allison Durham Speer, and others.  Church choirs across America have performed his songs.  Mark's compositions have been performed on TV programs such as In Touch with Charles Stanley, The Word Today with John Hagee, The Grand Ole Opry, The Bill Gaither Homecoming series and others.

As a soloist, Mark has enjoyed sixteen Top 40 songs, five Top 5 songs and two back-to-back #1 songs in 2004 and 2005 with Can I Pray For You and I Got Here As Fast As I Could.  Mark was named the Singing News Magazine's Soloist of the Year in 2005, as voted on by the fans of Gospel Music, and his Everyday album was nominated for best Southern Gospel Album by the GMA in 2008.  He has continued to perform on many of the industry's top concerts and high-profile events.  We are deeply honored to be able to talk to Mark for this exclusive Hallels' interview: 

Hallels:  Thank you Mark for your time.  Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your new album "This is What It's All About" (which will be released on May 20th).  What are you most excited about this new record? 

Well, after all of the work that we put into this new album; with writing the songs, working with the musicians and the background singers, recording the music, recording the vocals, mixing the project and then getting together a package with the artists and photographers so we can put it out for the marketing department to promote... we just get excited when the time finally arrives that we can watch that little bird leave the nest! On a personal level, I am excited about the messages that God has given me for these songs. I am not a pastor like you, so these songs are my sermons in a way of speaking. 

Hallels:  What are some of the lessons you want your listeners to take away after hearing your new record? 

Each song is different, so there are hopefully many different lessons to be taken away. Just like God can direct a person to a certain scripture depending on the circumstances going on in their life, I believe that God can use all of these songs just like "tools in a toolbox". Some jobs require one specific tool; some jobs require another. I have been writing music and lyrics for thirty years as of 2014 and I like to feel that I have gotten better with each new album. So I feel like no matter where you are in life, there is some good music on here for you. The trick is to provide a medicine that doesn't taste like a medicine! As a pastor, you know what I am talking about.

Hallels:  Did you write all the songs yourself?  Any covers?  Does song writing come easy for you?

Yes... if I didn't write, I'd probably quit singing. I feel like I express my heart through the lyrics. The singing is just a facilitator. I hear songs that I love all of the time that I think would be cool to sing, but my passion is in what God lays on my own heart. I wouldn't say that writing every song is easy, although some come easier than others. But I have this little assembly line in my brain where I make songs and I do have a routine that works for making these "what if" thoughts lyrical and musical. 

Hallels:  Did this album take a long time to put together?  What were some of the highlights in the making of this album? 

There are a lot of layers in the making of an album these days. There is the writing phase, the pre-production phase, the recording phase, the mixing stage, the packaging phase and the marketing phase. It does seem to stretch out over a few months. I guess my favorite part is being in the studio with the musicians and hearing the songs as they are "birthed".  Up to that point, all of the music has been swirling around in my own little head and it's at that point in the studio that they really come into the world as their own creatures. Too, I am privileged to get to influence some super-talented musicians, producers and engineers and to benefit from their knowledge and talents. That creative collaboration is where the "art" of it all happens and it is a dynamic give-and-take.

Hallels: You have a song on the record called "The Devil's Playing Chess."  It has such an intriguing title, can you tell us more about this song?

No....  well... ok...  without giving away too much (I want folks to hear it!)... Anyone familiar with my writing knows that I love to tell linear narratives through many songs. I grew up a fan of these songs that could transport you through empathy into someone else's circumstance. There are lessons to be learned there. That's why Jesus taught many lessons through parables. Sometimes it's easier to see our own problems for what they are when we can see how someone else deals with the same kind of problem. The song "The Devil's Playing Chess" is a throwback lyrically to the type of song that Tom T Hall used to sing. It tells a great little story about a preacher who helps a young man find his bearings in the world. He uses a metaphor to put it all in perspective and the payoff in the song is just a lot of fun.      

Hallels:  Are you touring to support of this new record?  If our readers want to find out more of your touring dates, purchase your new album or find out more about you, where can they go?

Yes, I am somewhere singing every weekend. Folks can learn more about my music by visiting our website at where they can see our touring schedule. Also, by placing their email address in the little box, they can receive a free email newsletter once a month or so with an updated schedule and a note from me. They can also join the conversations on our Facebook page. Just search for Mark Bishop Music and you'll find us. We definitely have some exciting things that will be happening in the near future for our ministry. We welcome anyone who is searching for the answers in life to walk with us for awhile... we'll journey together! 

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