One of the most recognizable voices in Christian music was also one of the genre’s most eligible bachelors. Mark Scultz had been creating a pretty impressive personal success story with a string of radio hits and best-selling records, and, to a degree, his concentration on music both consumed and fulfilled him. But soon after his dream of having his songs on the radio was realized, Schultz found himself in his 30s, with a longing in his heart for something else.
“I had put all my eggs in that basket,” he says. “In my youth, I thought if I was able to write songs and perform them, I wouldn’t want anything else. But then, gosh, there’s still a space in here.'” One summer, he met a young woman named Kate, a medical student who volunteered with the youth group at which Schultz was working as a youth director. The two were friends and then best friends, soon finding their relationship progressing to romance. With the mix of two hectic schedules, the couple learned how to adapt and get the most out of their time together. Earlier this year, they got married in her backyard in a small ceremony — a sweet relief for someone with such a public profile.
“Because a lot of what I do always has a bunch of publicity around it, we wanted to do something small for our families,” he says, describing the event as the greatest evening of his life. The couple took a quick trip to North Carolina for the honeymoon and later, after Kate’s graduation, took a longer trip to Italy.
Settling down with his wife in Nashville, Tenn., Schultz has come to see the delay in his marriage as a plus. “The greatest gift I could ever give her was the fact that I married her at 35 instead of 25,” he says. Years of independence and not having to keep office hours has enabled Schultz to spend more time at home, filling the role of “househusband.” Surprisingly, he found himself adapting easily to cooking dinner and doing laundry.In return, the new Mrs. Schultz often lends her opinion and talents to her husband’s songwriting. If a song produces tears in her eyes, it’s a keeper. And not only has she helped Schultz fill in missing verses to songs, but she has also served as his inspiration. Her family upbringing is the basis of the song “She Was Watching” on Schultz’ new record, Broken & Beautiful. The song is a story about parents living out their faith in front of their children, which Schultz says was the type of household in which Kate grew up.
Drawing from his own experience, Schultz also writes from the perspective of an adopted child in “Everything To Me.” Taking it one step further, the active supporter of The James Fund organization — which provides funds for orphanages around the world — will provide blocks of tickets to orphaned children to attend shows during his upcoming tour.
(Schultz says at this point he doesn’t have a desire to seek out his own birth parents. “I have great parents,” he explains. “There will be a time for that, but right now, that has not been a huge desire of mine.”)
The subject matter of these and other emotional songs often points to the singer-songwriter’s duality. Concertgoers often watch him transition seamlessly from making jokes to singing heart-wrenching serious songs. Schultz actually recently won the dubious honor of having his song, “He’s My Son,” included in Esquire magazine’s list of “The Saddest Songs Ever Written.” The father of the tune’s now-cancer-free subject noticed his name in the magazine and quickly called the singer to let him know. Schultz immediately made his way to a local bookstore to buy it and showed the article to Kate, with whom he had a good laugh.
I was at dinner with my wife and some friends of hers and this guy said, “Are you just sad all the time?” Schultz remembers. “‘You must be really hard to live with, being so serious all the time.’ My wife about fell out of her chair because she knows I’m the biggest dork of all time.”
As the man who once had trouble including a personal life in his music career says, “It all balances out.”
Copyright © 2006 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.
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