Gospel Vocals 4Him
Born: Mobile, AL
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
4Him was a Contemporary Christian group founded in 1990 in Alabama, USA. The group has a Grammy nomination, seven Dove awards and an album certified gold to their credit. The group was inducted into Alabama's Music Hall of Fame, following the awarding of The Governor’s Achievement Award. The group has also been featured performers for popular Christian Evangelist crusaders, Billy Graham and Louis Palau.
4Him disbanded in 2006 to pursue individual careers of ministry and music. They have released 11 studio albums which have produced 24 number one singles.
The group has made sporadic reunion appearances since 2009.
Andy Chrisman, Mark Harris, Marty Magehee, and Kirk Sullivan originally met when they sang together in Truth, a Contemporary Christian vocal group founded in the late 1960s and directed by Roger Breland. Truth had a rotating roster of four male and four female vocalists, many of whom went on to form singing groups of their own or record solo albums, such as Alicia Williamson-Garcia, NewSong, Russ Lee, Avalon, Steve Green and Jason Breland, Roger's middle son. Truth was officially disbanded in 2001. After a representative from Benson Records attended several Truth concerts in the late 1980s during which Andy, Mark, Marty, and Kirk performed, Benson approached the quartet saying that they wanted to use the guys to create a new male 4-member vocal group under the Benson label. "Where There Is Faith", their first single, stayed at #1 on the charts for eight weeks, two months before 4Him left Truth. Releasing their self-titled debut in 1990, they blended the traditions of Christian music’s past, with modern pop production and practical lyrics.
In 1996, with the release of The Message, 4Him changed their overall sound in an effort to keep pushing the creative limits of the group. The guys replaced the over-the-top orchestrations and choral vocal arrangements with a stripped down, acoustic band approach where one of the guys would sing lead and the other three would sing backing vocals. On 1998’s Obvious, each member took more ownership of their music – becoming more involved in the production and songwriting aspects.
By 2004, all four of the 4Him guys reevaluated the future of the ministry. After close to fifteen years together, the members of 4Him decided to embark on solo careers. On September 23, 2006, 4Him performed their final concert at Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, AL, the city where 4Him’s 16 year journey first started. At that concert, various individuals (including family members, record producers, management, and Truth founder Roger Breland) were recognized for their contributions to 4Him’s ministry.
In 2005, Mark Harris released The Line Between the Two and is currently worship pastor/artist-in-residence at Bay Community Ministries in Spanish Fort, AL. In 2007, Mark won a GMA Dove Award in the category of Inspirational Song of the Year for "Find Your Wings". On September 25, 2007, Mark released his second album Windows and Walls on INO Records.
More info: http://www.4him.net/index.html
After 15 years with 4Him, a collaboration that resulted in 22 No. 1 hits and 8 Dove Awards, Mark Harris wasn’t laying the groundwork for a solo career when he released The Line Between the Two in June 2005.
While each of the four members was working on or had recently released solo projects, there was no plan to put an end to 4Him. In fact, later in 2005 the group was planning to go into the studio and record another hymns album. But as they sat down together in a North Carolina restaurant one warm summer day, Mark, Andy, Marty and Kirk found themselves planning an ending for the group that had brought them such success and fulfillment.
“We didn’t sit down to end 4Him,” Harris says, but a variety of ministry opportunities for the individual members made it, “in hindsight, such a God thing.” That’s how the foursome found themselves spending 2006 celebrating what had been. They released Encore, an album filled with hits and fans favorites, and embarked on a farewell tour.
Once that chapter was finished, Harris began to contemplate his future. While he’d already done more than most people could accomplish in several lifetimes, retirement wasn’t even an option. Instead, he relished the opportunity to face a new challenge of solo work. As 4Him’s primary songwriter, Harris had spent years writing from a corporate perspective, making sure his words encompassed what the entire group wanted to say. Now, speaking only for himself, he was able to communicate more personal messages straight from his own heart.
“It’s exciting for me to be able to do that,” Harris says, adding, “I never knew what it was like to write 12 songs and cut 12 songs. I always felt like I had to write 50 and record 12.” What this streamlined process allowed him to do is spend more time on each song, honing the melody and message until they were just right.
And it’s those songs that provided the direction for Windows and Walls, both musically and thematically. Due in stores on Sept. 25, 2007, Harris’ second solo project was definitely influenced by his current role as Head of Worship Ministries at Bay Community Church near his home on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but the project really centers around story-driven songs.
The title track is one that Harris says is particularly special to him. A tender story of just how quickly kids grow up, “Writing On the Wall” is one any parent who’s ever marked their child’s height on a wall will relate to. In comparing it to his work with 4Him, Harris says, “it’s more vulnerable, it’s a more intimate setting. It’s such a very honest statement. I won’t regret not doing more concerts when I’m older, but I will regret not being there for things in my kids’ lives.”
Another transparent tune, the title track “Windows & Walls,” is about someone headed for a spiritual fall. It’s a “there but for the grace of God go I” reminder. “I have found myself saying things from stage that I’m not living in my home,” Harris admits. “Just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I have faults, I have challenges. That understanding keeps Harris committed to making sure his kids see him living out the ideals he promotes on stage.
Then there are ballads like “Takes You By Surprise” and the more up-tempo “For the Glory of You.”Then others, like “I Will See Jesus,” started out as “a nice, tender ballad” but took an up-tempo turn during the recording process. The unassuming “Come to the Mountain” is just a beautiful ministry song for anyone hurting and in need encouragement (there’s that worship minister influence), while “His Words” is based on the well-known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Real True God” is another song that is special to Harris. “I love that message.” Triggered by a friend, the song is a reminder that God isn’t something we can create or keep in our pocket or put on a shelf. “The big challenge for me,” Harris says, “is to not lose sight of His majesty, of how awesome He is. When we rest in our own ability, we take away the ‘bigness’ of who He is.”
That concept leads right into the calming surety of “Nothing Takes You by Surprise,” a reminder that when catastrophe strikes, when something like the 9-11 attacks happen, God doesn’t say “uh-oh! Change of plans.” His plan didn’t change that day and they haven’t changed throughout history.
To bring Windows and Walls to life, Harris again relied on the expertise of producer Pete Kipley, also adding Nathan Nockels to the mix. And to help craft the songs, Harris tapped long-time collaborators Dave Clark and Tony Wood. During live shows, a song is never exactly the same twice, and Harris and his team worked hard to bring that same organic feel into the studio. “If we’re not careful, we end up sterilizing the mix,” he says. “One thing we fought for was to make sure it stayed pure.”
While there’s not doubt Harris has the talent and drive to enjoy a long career of ministry and music as a solo artist, what keeps him out on the road and in the studio after all these years? This husband of 17 years and father of two “tweens” admits that there are many other ways he could make a living.
But Mark Harris understands the power of music.
“You get to a point in life where you’re not doing things for success as much as for significance. I want my music to make a difference in people’s lives. I do this so a dad can hear a song like “Writing On the Wall” and say, ‘I’m kickin’ off at noon and I’m gonna go home. I’m not gonna work late tonight.’
“I believe that songs can make a difference when someone hears them at the right time. Because I’ve seen how songs impact people, I just can’t leave this behind,
Believe him. He has the emails and stories to prove it.
Personal Web Site: http://www.markharrisonline.com/