Singer and songwriter Mark Tedder has been making music most of his life. From those early years in Arkansas in the southern United States as a 5 year old, bangingon the drums, music has always played an important role for him. They started an international worship-equipping mission called Worshiplanet, which saw them, travel to over 40 nations training worship leaders and worship teams. They've lived in the UK, Russia, Czech Republic and China. Their music has opened doors for them in North Korea, Tibet, Mongolia and throughout Northern Africa, Asia and the European Continent.
Tedder has released singles such as "Like Mercy" and "Stay" via 7Core Music. Ths singles are taken from Tedder's forthcoming collection of songs entitled Psalms, Sonnets and Meditations.
We are honored to catch up with Mark Tedder for this exxclusive interview.
Q: Mark, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I originate from Arkansas in the south part of USA. Grew up in a Christ following family. Amazing parents. Youngest of 4 siblings. A very musical family. So basically grew up hearing about Jesus and singing songs from the south.
Q: You are not just a songwriter and singer, but you have also a missionary, where you have had been bringing your music all across the world. Tell us more about the international scope of your ministry.
My wife and I have been doing mission most of our married life. We've lived in UK 8 years, Moscow 1 year, Prague 4 years and Beijing 2 years. We have worked in 30 countries around the world with a. primary focus on the persecuted church and people imprisoned for their faith.
Q: I believe you founded a worship-equipping mission called WORSHIPLANET. What is WORSHIPLANET about?
Worshiplanet is about equipping, networking, and modeling worship leadership. We do interactive workshops that stimulate them thinking more about not just the mechanics of what they do, but rather the heart behind what they do as worship leaders and the responsibility they hold as shepherds of Christs body. We also provide practical input so that they finish well and move away from the need to perform. There is a worship culture thats been fostered globally that places undue pressure on worship leaders to be something they are not. Finishing the race well is critical, and worship leaders are falling by the hundreds because they simply cannot maintain the new pressures on their ministries.
Q: How would you describe your style of music?
Haha! Thats a good question. I have southern roots so my go-to is southern rock, R&B, Blues, and southern gospel. I try to stretch my writing to include pop, rock, country and southern feel.
Q: You have recently signed with 7Core Music and you will be releasing your new single "Stay." I believe this is a very personal song for you, can you tell us the story behind "Stay"?
I remember the passing of both of my parents. They passed one and half hrs from each other - strange thing is my Dad wasn't even ill at the time! Sixty-eight years of marriage and they couldn't live a day without one another. A phone call came in the middle of the night while we were doing ministry in Cuba. I felt an overwhelming sense of insecurity. I couldn't move! I just wanted to see them one more time. I knew their time was nearing the end but my Dad basically died of a broken heart - he didn't want my mother to go without him. Dad gave up, got a slight chest infection and died one hour before Mom.
Psalm 27 comforts us with the words that the Lord will hide us, keep us and hear our cries.
Q: Your new album is called "Psalms, Sonnets and Meditation." Can you unpack the album title for us?
I wanted to write something out of my comfort zone. Songs that have more of my roots background yet songs that reflect the honesty of the Psalmist and his writings. Each song comes from a Psalm and lifts out the passion and honesty of that Psalm.
Q: What can we expect from this new album?
It's not really a worship album. However, the songs could be used in worship. Some are more congregational than others but it's more of a journey rather than a worship project if that makes sense?
Q: Over the years, you have bringing the Gospel through music to so many people across the globe, can you recount for us a time when God used one of your songs to touch the heart of an individual?
North Korea 2015. We were with a (Christian) tour group of 15 Korean expats from all over the world. I was asked to bring a guitar so we could have worship each morning on the tour bus. We ended up doing worship in our hotels, karaoke bars, clubs, lobbies and dining rooms as we traveled the country. However once instance we were invited to visit the University of Science and Technology in Pyongyang.
The Dean of students asked us to the board room. He politely asked me to please play some songs. Turns out he is a believer. I sang a song I wrote in Beijing in 2008 called "Be Still". As I sang that simple song (easy to pick up) people began to raise their hands in worship in that board room of the university. Our North Korean security detail did not know what to do at that moment! They began to try to disrupt the moment but the voices were so loud they stood back and just filmed that worship time on their phones.
We then went straight into Amazing Grace and tears began to flow down our faces realizing where we actually were at the time yet being lost in the presence of Christ. It was a moment I shall always remember worshiping with a North Korean brother "behind enemy lines" so to speak.