There is hope. Those words were etched into Mark Wagner's mind after his first visit to Africa as a sponsored artist for Mocha Club (www.mochaclub.org). Mark visited The Village of Hope in Northern Uganda, and found a place that exists between two very different worlds. The village is pinned between the reality of a devastating civil war that has ravaged the country and its people for two decades, and a world of limitless possibilities, wrought with the one force that can topple the LRA. Hope.
The Village exists to give aid to the female survivors of the civil war; they deal in giving hope to the hopeless. Mark saw it. His life was changed by it. His music is being shaped by this hope, and the chance to offer hope to the hopeless. "Sun's Gonna Rise", Mark Wagner's new album, is birthed directly from the simple, powerful fact that there is indeed hope, for all of us.
Mark has had a clear vision for his music from the beginning. His first shows were at local coffee houses and music clubs in his native East Tennessee. His self-produced first album, "While I'm Here" was released in 2004, and he hasn't looked back. He grew as an artist to tour nationally year-round, and has performed with artists such as Brandon Heath, Paul Wright, and Rachel Lampa. Four albums and 10,000 album sales later, Mark is still doing the very thing he loves most, playing music that inspires and gives hope. Mark has sung about that hope in front of thousands of high school students during his volunteer work with Young Life, an organization that lines up with Mark's vision of giving hope to the hopeless.
Rooted in the pop sounds of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, blended with deep, rich lyrics, "Sun's Gonna Rise" is an album that is classically Mark Wagner, but a work that is more ambitious and refined than any of his previous works. "I really wanted this album to punch people in the gut. My hope for these songs was that they would challenge the listener and force them to ask questions about their own view of the world," Mark explains. His collaboration with various talented artists in the production of "Sun's Gonna Rise" gives the album a credibility that stands up to any major label creation. One of those collaborations was with producer Ben Shive. "Working with Ben was a great experience. He challenged me to become a better songwriter, and challenged my vision for the production of the songs." Mark adds, "He is a musical genius and was able to really breathe life into the songs."
It’s those songs that so eloquently communicate a vision of hope. From top to bottom the album is full of tracks, masterfully constructed, giving crystal clear images of hope for the hopeless. Whether it’s struggles, and the hope of overcoming ("There's A Mountain"), the hope in relationships ("Here For You"), or the fact that hope is something for all of us ("There is Hope"), "Sun’s Gonna Rise" is a powerful, honest work that clearly showcases Mark Wagner as an artist to be watched.
Mark has seen desperation and triumph. He has felt hopelessness and mercifully has seen hope. As he knows, and as "Sun’s Gonna Rise" clearly announces, there is hope...for all of us.