How would you like to write a song for your wife, record it, leave it in a conspicuous place for her to find and then get a reaction that is totally contrary to what you expected? Well that is exactly what happened when pop star Mark Schultz wrote the tune “1,000 Miles” for his wife Kate. “My wife makes it so easy for me being married because she is so giving and good to me. I think a lot of people say that their first year was so hard and for me it hasn’t been. What I am trying to do is model the unselfishness that she models. It works so well,” he says.
The couple just celebrated their first anniversary and have often found themselves on different schedules due to Kate’s work as a doctor at a local hospital and the singer’s tour schedule. That being the case Schultz decided to get creative one day. He then relates to me how he got up early one morning while his wife was sleeping and recorded the song “1,000 Miles” on his computer. He set the headphones and the recording by the door so Kate would see it before she left for work. “She went downstairs, saw the note and put on the headphones. I thought any moment she is going to come up here (to the bedroom) and tell me that I have won the best husband of the year award,” he says. Not realizing that her husband was peeking in on what was unfolding Kate hit play, listened to the music and started dancing around.
Schultz thought to himself, “That’s weird; my song doesn’t have much dancing to it.” He saw his wife, “dancing, laughing and smiling. I thought, ?That’s not what I thought she would do.’ Then she left without saying anything or running back upstairs to give me a hug or anything. I ran downstairs to see what the problem was. She had hit the wrong button and was playing U2’s “Beautiful Day”. She thought I was just sending her off to work with a great song.” He then breaks into laughter.
Schultz’s most recent CD release Broken & Beautiful on the Curb Records label is filled with personal anecdotes. None is more personal than the song “Everything to Me”. The lyrics discuss his feelings about being adopted and his gratitude for the choice his birth mother made to opt for adoption rather than abortion.
“Everything to Me” first began to take form after a conversation that Schultz had with some ladies backstage following one of his concerts. “I found out they were from an adoption agency and helped facilitate adoptions,” he says. The conversation got around to the fact that he is adopted and the ladies asked if he had ever met his birth mother. When Schultz replied no they were curious as to why he hadn’t tried. “I hadn’t thought about it much and I have great parents. I said half jokingly (to the ladies) I figure if my birth mom had wanted me she wouldn’t have given me up in the first place,” he says.
He continues, “One of them looked at me with sad eyes and said, ?You need to know something. As a birth mom if you are young and not married the easiest option is to go in for an abortion.’ She said to me, ?If that was the case you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. Another option is for a birth mom to say I don’t think I can give this baby the best life but it is my baby and I am not letting it go. Maybe she keeps you and you don’t get all the opportunities that you have enjoyed so far in your life.’ She said, ?Your birth mom carried you for nine months knowing she was going to give you up for adoption to a family who could give you love, take care of you and give you the best life possible. She had to make the hardest decision of her life and that is to let you go so you could have a better life. It wasn’t because she didn’t love you that she gave you up it was because she did love you that she gave you up to such a great family.” Then he adds, “That just hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, wow you are exactly right.”
In the days that followed Schultz kept reflecting back on that conversation with the ladies from the adoption agency. “I thought about what I would say to my birth mom if I ever had a chance to meet her. I went through in my mind imagining trying to meet someone that I didn’t know. Tears started running down my face and the only words I could come up with were thank you for this life that you have given me,” he says.
The song was co-written with Cindy Morgan who had just given birth to a child. “She said she couldn’t imagine giving up a child. She said that was a wonderful thing your birth mother did for you because I don know how that would happen,” Schultz says.
In God’s providence a short while later and with the song only half written Schultz was asked to perform at a benefit function for an adoption agency. “I said I am jut going to throw this song out there and tell me what you are thinking. Afterwards a lady came up to me and said, ?You don’t know me but there is a young lady here in the audience who is a birth mother and she is expecting. She came to our adoption and preplanning agency and told us she was going to have an abortion. After she heard your song she has decided to (carry the child to term) and give her child up for adoption,” Schultz says.
The songwriter’s reaction was not surprising, “I was blown away that GOD would write a song for me that would change someone’s life enough to make them decide not to have an abortion but to give the child up for adoption. That is pretty cool.”
Schultz was in the car with his parents when they heard “Everything to Me” for the first time. He describes the scene, “My mom was sitting in the front seat and she reached out to hold my hand. Her face turned red and her eyes got really misty. She started crying. I thought, ?I hope she thinks it is okay and is not disappointed in me.’ My mom was just overwhelmed and she thought it was a beautiful song. She kept saying to me, ?Can I hear that song again? I think they (parents) are really honored because it not only honors the birth parent but it honors my parents that have given me such a great life.”
Schultz gives a lot of credit to his wife for “Everything to Me” and the song “She Was Watching” appearing on the album. “It is really good to have her feedback because they might not have been on the record had I not been married. I saw the way they affected and impacted her so I decided to put them on the record,” he says.
Schultz outlines for me the theme to “She Was Watching”, “It is about a girl growing up and watching her dad. At one point in the song her dad thinks she is sleeping but she has one eye open watching him pray. In her mind she is thinking, ?I want to be like this. I want to be like my dad.’ At the end of the song he is walking her down the aisle when she is getting married. He lets her go but she pulls him back and whispers in his ear, I’ve been watching and I have been waiting to find someone just like you.’ It is about how special the bond is between a daughter and her dad and how important that role is.”
Just prior to my speaking with Schultz in early September he was having a conversation with a couple of the members of his band concerning the importance of role models. Two of the members of his band have daughters. The subject centered about the importance of a young person having a good grasp of priorities and values. “If a girl just thinks she wants to be popular with guys then anything (can happen) just so they will like her,” Schultz says.
Schultz believes self esteem plays an important role in where a girl sets her limits in relationships. In 2005 Schultz became the lone male participant in the Girls of Grace Conferences organized by Point of Grace. When he spoke to the teenage girls in attendance, “I talked about how wonderful my wife is because she knew who she is. She waited for me (before having a sexual relationship). She was able to do that because she knew who she was and what she wanted. She has a good head on her shoulders and she is a godly, godly woman.” He gives credit to his wife for providing some insight into the female psyche.
Looking ahead to the prospect of being a father someday and perhaps of a daughter he says, “Am I terrified to raise a girl? Yes. I am so grateful that I have a wife who is a great role model and great friend to me as well as a lot of young women.”
In poking fun at himself Schultz feels the young women attending the conferences paid closer attention to the content of his songs such as “Walking Her Home” because he isn’t an eighteen year old stunning looking guy (his words not mine!). He jokes with me that it probably helped the cause that he is a bald thirty-five year old.
He says “Walking Her Home”, “is about a couple I met when I first moved to Nashville. On the first date the dad said to the guy, ?this is my only daughter; make sure you never leave her side on this date.’ If you cried the first time you heard Randy Travis’ country tune “Forever and Ever Amen” then you better get out a big box of tissues before spinning “Walking Her Home”.
I have had several conversations with Mark Schultz over the past two years and my impression is still the same as when I first spoke to him. He is a really humble guy, who creates awesome tunes that find a way into your heart because they come from deep within his own heart.
Copyright © 2006 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.