Born in 1973, Mark was raised in Blue Ridge, GA. As a young boy, Mark was a fan of country stars such as Alabama and Ronnie Milsap, as well as some of the rock acts of the day such as Poison, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. After winning a local talent contest at age 17, Mark announced to his parents that he was moving to the big city of Atlanta to follow his dream.
Mark Wills found both personal and professional success in Georgia's capital city. He adopted his stage name because there was another country singer named "Williams" in Atlanta. Then he became the "house" entertainer for five years at the famed Buckboard nightclub, where he met his wife Kelly. They married in 1996, which was the same year that the upbeat "Jacob's Ladder" jump-started his country career. That single was followed by a string of Top 10 smashes. His 1998 album Wish You Were Here went Platinum and Permanently (2000) then went Gold.
With its heartfelt message of tolerance and charity, the Mark Wills hit "Don't Laugh At Me" garnered nominations from the Country Music Association for Single, Song, and Video of the Year in 1998. The same year, Mark and Kelly's first daughter Mally was born. Again, career success dovetailed with personal happiness.
In 1999, Wills took home the Academy of Country Music's coveted award for Top New Male Vocalist. A year later Mark was chosen as the voice of Huck Finn in the star-studded animated feature film Tom Sawyer. Two of his musical performances also appeared on the soundtrack.
In the new millennium, his career heated up again. In 2002, his bopping, fun-loving single "19 Somethin'" spent six weeks at No. 1 on the charts. At year's end, both Billboard and Radio & Records magazines named it the top country hit of the year. Then in 2003, the family welcomed second daughter, Macey.
Later that year, Mark Wills signed up to entertain our military troops overseas and has returned each year since then. Mark has traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and has made numerous military appearances all across America. "I am so fortunate to be able to play music around the world, and it is all because the men and women in our military risk their lives to protect our freedom. It is a way for me to say thanks and hopefully, for a moment, help them forget that their lives are in danger and they are away from their loved ones.
In 2004 Wills sang "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" on the tribute album Southern Rock Country Style. He released his first live album in 2005. Then came a surprise: a No. 1 downloaded track on iTunes in 2006. It was his version of "What Hurts The Most". A track from his three-year-old album And The Crowd Goes Wild. When fans went in search of the chart-topping remake by Rascal Flatts, they discovered Wills' original recording of the song and downloaded his version instead.
"The new album, Familiar Stranger, all came about when I started listening to songs, looking for something different," Wills relates. "Sometimes you get pigeon-holed as to what you can do or what is expected of you. I heard several things that were unique sounding and noticed Brett James was the writer on all of them and that he was the producer on them too. I basically went to him and groveled: 'Dude, I love this sound! This is the band sound I grew up with.' And I asked him to work with me."
"When Brett and I started talking, I said, 'I want players who aren't afraid to step outside of the normal studio pattern. I want them to listen and feel the music. Most importantly I want them to have fun with it. I want them to have a sense of ownership about this sound.'"
"Getting this record out and sharing it with the fans is going to be a great experience. I'm looking forward to getting back on the road, playing for the fans and putting this new music out there. That's all I've ever wanted to do since I picked up my first guitar."