Nashville, TN -- Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Mark D. Sanders will take a seat at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Saturday, May 26, as the latest subject of the quarterly programming series Poets and Prophets: Legendary Country Songwriters. The 1:30 p.m. in-depth interview and performance, held in the museum's Ford Theater, is included with museum admission and free to museum members. The program will be streamed live at www.CountryMusicHallOfFame.org.
The 90-minute program, hosted by Museum Editor Michael Gray, will include recordings, photos and film clips from the museum's Frist Library and Archive. Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance. Immediately following, Sanders will sign limited edition, commemorative Hatch Show Print® posters. (Visit the museum's website for complete admission and signing details.)
Sanders' body of work includes contemporary country classics such as "I Hope You Dance," "Heads Carolina, Tails California," "It Matters to Me" and "Blue Clear Sky." The list of artists who have recorded Sanders' songs reads like a who's who of country stars over the past 30 years: Trace Adkins, John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, John Michael Montgomery, George Strait, Josh Turner, Clay Walker, Lee Ann Womack and more.
Mark Daniel Sanders, born in Los Angeles in 1950, eased into songwriting after writing poetry in his teens and studying literature in college. After a stint as a teacher, Sanders became passionate about creating music and decided to try to make songwriting his profession when he was 29.
Sanders moved to Nashville in 1980 with his first bundle of original songs and landed a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose Publications in less than two years. His first cut was "A Matter of Wine" by Mel Tillis in 1983. Sanders worked as a substitute teacher and a tour bus driver while he honed his craft. After cuts by Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea and others, Sanders began the 1990s with a song ("Victim of the Game") on Garth Brooks' blockbuster album No Fences. Soon came a long string of chart singles starting with "Mirror, Mirror" by Diamond Rio. Co-written with Bob DiPiero and John Jarrard, the song went to #3 on the Billboard country chart in 1991.
"Mirror, Mirror" was followed by "Runnin' Behind" (Tracy Lawrence), "Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy" (Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks) and "Money in the Bank" (John Anderson).
The mid-1990s were banner years for Sanders. He scored #1s with "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" (Trace Adkins), "No News" (Lonestar), "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (Reba McEntire),"Daddy's Money" (Ricochet), "Blue Clear Sky" (George Strait) and many others. Sanders won ASCAP's Country Songwriter of the Year honor in 1997, while on staff at McEntire's Starstruck Publishing.
Though Sanders has written some of the most popular contemporary country songs, his most-awarded song is the inspirational ballad "I Hope You Dance." Co-written with Tia Sillers and a chart topper for Lee Ann Womack for five consecutive weeks, the song won the Best Country Song Grammy in 2000 and was named Song of the Year by virtually every country music industry organization including ASCAP, BMI, NSAI, the CMA and the ACM. The song was also designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of the most significant songs of the 20th century. "I Hope You Dance" has been recorded by a number of artists, including Ronan Keating and Gladys Knight, and appeared on the soundtrack for The Family That Preys. Womack performed the song at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in December 2000. Sanders and Sillers penned an inspirational book, also titled I Hope You Dance, that has sold more than two million copies.
After the success of "I Hope You Dance," Sanders continued to have cuts in the new millennium from Trace Adkins, Billy Currington, Vince Gill, Lori McKenna, Josh Turner and others. Alan Jackson hit #2 on the Billboard country chart and cracked the Top 30 on the Hot 100 chart in 2003 with Sanders' "That'd Be Alright," (co-written with Sillers and Tim Nichols).
Sanders' career includes over 200 cuts and more than 50 singles. He has earned four CMA Triple Play Awards (for three #1s in a 12-month period) and numerous songwriter accolades from industry organizations and publications. Sanders was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Poets and Prophets series honors songwriters who have made significant contributions to country music history. Previous Poets and Prophets honorees include Bill Anderson, Matraca Berg, Bobby Braddock, Wayne Carson, Jerry Chesnut, Hank Cochran, Sonny Curtis, Dean Dillon, Jerry Foster, Dallas Frazier, Red Lane, John D. Loudermilk, Bob McDill, Roger Murrah, Dan Penn, Curly Putman, Don Schlitz, Whitey Shafer, Jeffrey Steele, Norro Wilson and Craig Wiseman.
The Poets and Prophets series is made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy