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Mark D. Sanders
|Birth name||Mark Daniel Sanders|
|Born||September 7, 1950|
in Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Genres||Country, country pop|
Mark Daniel Sanders (born September 7, 1950) is an American country music songwriter. He has written 14 No. 1 hits, 50 singles, and over 200 cuts, including the famous Lee Ann Womack single "I Hope You Dance", co-written with Tia Sillers.
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Sanders was born in Los Angeles, California on September 7, 1950. He lived in the Lemiert Park area of Los Angeles until his family moved to the City of Orange in Orange County. He graduated from Villa Park High School in 1968, lettering in basketball all three years, and then played two more years of basketball at Fullerton Junior College.
While majoring in literature, Sanders also enjoyed surfing at the University of California, San Diego, where he wrote his first songs. After graduation he worked as a VISTA volunteer in Arkansas for eighteen months, then earned his teaching certificate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
He and his first wife returned to California in 1975, where he taught for three years in the Orange Unified School District. He abandoned a teaching career after the passage of California's controversial Proposition 13, then had a succession of menial jobs until making the decision to pursue songwriting as a career in Nashville in early 1980. He and the same first wife arrived in Tennessee on March 5, 1980.
There were more menial jobs awaiting Sanders in Nashville: cooking at the Sailmaker and Ruby Tuesday's, substitute teaching, two years in charge of In School Suspension at Hillsboro High School and driving a tour bus.
In 1986, he married Cindy Sasser whom he met while working at Hillsboro High School. After a lengthy, successful songwriting career, Mark now enjoys fly fishing the Yampa river in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he and Cindy spend their summers, body surfing in Maui where they spend their winters, traveling and spending time with their adult children.
After ten years spent learning the craft in Nashville., Sanders career began to skyrocket in the early 1990s. In 1989 he wrote two songs with a would-be country star named Garth Brooks, the first of which was on his No Fences CD, which eventually sold 17 million copies. The song, "Victim of the Game," was also recorded by Trisha Yearwood, whose debut CD sold an additional 2 million copies. Songs by artists Diamond Rio, Tracy Lawrence, and John Anderson brought Sanders 14 No. 1 singles.
Sanders was the NSAI Songwriter of the Year in 1995, a year that brought him five No. 1 hits. He also earned the same award in 1996. In 1997 he was the ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year, and had the ASCAP song of the year with "No News," a multi-week #1 recording by Lonestar.
In his career Sanders has written for a number of publishers: Acuff-Rose Publishing, Alabama Band Music, Mid-Summer Music, MCA Music Publishing, Starstruck Writers Group, Universal Music Publishing, and Large Vista Music. His self-owned publishing companies include: Mark D Music (sold to Universal Music in 1997), Soda Creek Songs, Yampa Tunes, Blue Clear Music, and Songs of the Sanderosa.
On November 7, 2011, Mark D Sanders released "History & Hope", an album that features him singing 10 of his songs spanning his career, including "I Hope You Dance," and in 2017 he released a second CD entitled "First Fast Car."
Sanders' major career achievement, however, would be his collaboration with Tia Sillers on the Lee Ann Womack song "I Hope You Dance". The duo had previously written the Martina McBride song "I Ain't Goin' Nowhere" in 1999, but it was their collaboration on the Womack song that gained them recognition. The song became a No. 1 country hit and Top 20 pop hit for Lee Ann Womack, and received the Grammy Award for "Best Country Song," as well as a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. The song also received CMA & ACM Awards for Song of the Year in 2000. The song stayed atop the Billboard Country chart for five consecutive weeks.
The song's popularity led to the release of a book entitled "I Hope You Dance", another collaboration of Sillers and Sanders, with sales of over 2,000,000 books to date. The book contains poems and writings inspired by the song. There is also an "I Hope You Dance" children's book and journal. Sanders and Sillers later collaborated again on an inspirational book entitled "Climb".
In 2009 Sanders was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Inspiration and technique
Sanders attributes his writing abilities to self-editing and having faith in his writing.
"If you looked at my songs 15–16 years ago, you would know what I mean. Learning to finish a song is a process. I've written so many songs...you just learn things you don't want to say, things you've said before. I try to think of interesting or quirky things that no one else has said," Sanders told American Songwriter.
"You have to also get out of thinking that your life is the most interesting thing you have to write about. I had to write about myself when I started out, it was therapy. But the older I got the more I realized that my life isn't that interesting, so I started to write about other stuff."
Sanders receives inspiration from life all around him. He often gets ideas from book titles and was once inspired by the name of an author herself: Bobbie Ann Mason, used for the 1995 song "Bobbie Ann Mason".
"I like to find a book where the author writes like country music writers," Sanders has said. "And sometimes I'll just walk through a bookstore and look at titles."
No. 1 Hits
- "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" – Trace Adkins
- "Blue Clear Sky" – George Strait
- "Come Cryin' to Me", "No News" – Lonestar
- "Daddy's Money" – Ricochet
- "Don't Get Me Started" – Rhett Akins
- "Heads Carolina, Tails California" – Jo Dee Messina
- "I Hope You Dance" – Lee Ann Womack
- "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" – Reba McEntire
- "If You've Got Love" – John Michael Montgomery
- "It Matters to Me" – Faith Hill
- "Money in the Bank" – John Anderson
- "Runnin' Behind" – Tracy Lawrence
- "They're Playin' Our Song" – Neal McCoy
- "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy" – Chris LeDoux & Garth Brooks
- Mark D. Sanders :: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. Nashville Songwriters Foundation (1950-07-09). Retrieved on 2011-11-16.
- Tia Sillers I Hope You Dance. SongwriterUniverse Article. Retrieved on 2011-11-16.
- MARK SANDERS: Turning His Hobby Into A Career. American Songwriter (1997-01-01). Retrieved on 2011-11-16.