Interview with Nashville Renaissance Man, Mark Smeby

Mark Smeby is one of Nashville’s unassuming multi-talented creative types. Originally from Minneapolis, Smeby has lived in Nashville for the past 20 years honing his skills as a singer, actor and writer. He has been seen this year on ABC’s “Nashville.”
I met Mark in the 1990s when he was on the drama team at my church, and frankly, I was skeptical. Really, could anyone with that much talent be THAT nice? In an industry full of phonies who are only looking out for #1, genuine compassion, empathy and kindness are not easy to find, and I made the mistake of assuming he couldn’t really be THAT nice. Over the years Mark has proven me wrong over and over, so I decided it was time to take a closer look at one of the local music industry’s very talented but also REALLY nice guys.
CA: What have you been working on this fall?
Mark Smeby: I’m so excited about a book I just finished writing. It’s called “WANNABE: How to Make It Big In Nashville (From Someone Who Hasn’t Yet).” It’s basically about how crazy Nashville is…and how my definition of success has changed over the 20 years of living here. It’s filled with funny celebrity stories, and truths about the music industry, but more importantly, it’s about not letting other people live your life for you, but how to let your heart be the compass that guides you on the path toward the life you desire. It’s about waking up to the life you’ve always imagined, but never thought possible.
CA: What have you released most recently?
Mark Smeby: I was very inspired by Max Lucado’s latest book “You’ll Get Through This” — it really resonates with the message of hope that I try to have permeate all my writing, my music, and my concerts. So I wrote a song. It says, “Hope says God is in this, and He’s not finished with you yet. It may seem impossible, but my God still does miracles. Redeeming the broken, chasing after the lost, He’s the champion of your storm. When it seems you’ve been forgotten, He will roll away your stone, and you’ll get through this. (You can watch the lyric video here:
CA What is the best thing 2013 has brought you?
Mark Smeby: Ok Kathryn, I’m going to answer this kinda weirdly. I’ve had a ton of great experiences this year. I’m filled with gratitude. But I have to say that one of the best things is that God has awakened me to is the ugliness of my pride. Like in very specific ways. There’s beauty in being (as Jeremy Riddle said) “sweetly broken.” It leads me to compassion for others, and humility that, contrary to my best thinking, I may not be right all the time.
CA What are you looking forward to most during the holidays?
Mark Smeby: I’m so honored to be going on my 3rd Annual “Hope of Christmas” tour. It’s such a special time of the year when people are open to hearing the truth of the gospel. It’s a time of year filled with joy for the present moment, gratitude for the past, and bright hope for the future. To get to guide an audience through a celebration of these moments is such a great joy. I’m still amazed any time I get to sing for people, much less lead them through a meaningful, spiritual and emotional experience.
I also look forward to seeing my family up in Minnesota. My parents have prayed for me every day of my life. I want to live my life saying thank you to God first, for His faithfulness, but secondly, to my parents for their unending love and encouragement. My sister is also my best friend—I look forward to seeing her, as well.
CA: What else is going on in your life?
Mark Smeby: One of the most favorite parts of my life is my Friday morning time in prison with a group of guys I call my brothers. Many struggle being apart from their children and family members…especially during the holiday season. And some of them have even been abandoned by their friends and family. Please pray for those incarcerated or alone this Christmas. And maybe think about writing a letter or going to visit someone who doesn’t have anybody.
I’m so thankful that I get to do some things that I’ve only dreamed of doing my whole life. Sometimes it takes longer than you’d hope to see the fruition of your dreams… But God is gracious enough to let me see the purpose and meaning in the waiting…and the story he was weaving through the years when it all seemed so quiet.
Note: Mark Smeby is available now for booking for his Experience the Hope of Christmas tour. Find out more at


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