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Nashville Songwriter Mark Burke

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

When singer-songwriter Mark Burke played his very first gig, his set list consisted of just eight songs – one by Kenny Chesney; one by Toby Keith; and the rest by Eric Church. Fast forward eight years! He now has a repertoire of more than 150 songs, with regular performances at some of Nashville’s hottest venues, like FGL House and Jason Aldean’s Rooftop Bar. Mark is also on the bill with Jerrod Niemann to play the Blackwater Country Jam in Punta Gorda, Florida September 22; and he just released his original single Love Does last week.

Mark never imagined that taking piano lessons in second grade would lead to a career in music. “My mom and dad told me if I didn’t like it after three weeks I could quit.” But Mark continued to play the piano throughout his school years, and his diligence and talent led to a full ride college scholarship for jazz piano. He started playing guitar halfway through his senior year at Indian River State College in Vero Beach, FL, and joined a band after graduation. “I played bars every weekend and tried to learn as many songs as I could and hone my craft in writing.” After two years, he decided to move. “I didn’t want to work a 9 to 5, and I knew that if I wanted to pursue music that I had to go to Nashville.”

When Mark first arrived in Music City, he got some advice from a veteran songwriter. “You gotta pick one thing and write it; you either have to write the new country or the old country, you can’t write both.”  Mark wrestled with that concept for a couple years. After all, he grew up listening to traditional country music by Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Paycheck. But he also liked the modern country sound of artists like Craig Campbell. Mark decided to make his own rules; he was not going to limit his songwriting to one subgenre of country music. “The more bilingual you are in songwriting, the better off you are, and you can sit down in a room with anybody and write a song.”

One of Mark’s frequent co-writers is country artist Josh Melton; they’ve written more than a dozen songs together. “Our best songs happen when we’re a couple drinks in just hanging out, and one of us gets an idea and we start writing.” The two met five years ago at a songwriting contest where Josh introduced himself by saying, “You and I are going to be best friends.” Mark placed second and Josh placed third in the final round of the contest, but it was another year and a half before they met up again. Nowadays, they frequently tour together and share the stage at FGL House -- taking turns on lead vocals as they sing everything from Garth Brooks to Jake Owen.

On the Saturday I attended their downtown show, bridal parties with matching T-shirts filled the dance floor in front of the stage. “Ideally when you’re playing for a crowd like this (FGL House) you want to do covers, because that’s what people sing along to." But it also gives Mark and Josh both a chance to expose their original music to people from all over the country. “I may not get to go tour in Kansas City, but I just met somebody from Kansas City that now knows my music and may go home and tell their friends about it.”

When asked what’s been the biggest struggle since moving to Nashville, Mark joked, “parking!” “As long as you’re doing something proactive every day and you’re chasing your dream, there’s no struggle --  you’ve already made it.”  He initially expected that people might not want to write with him when he was the “new guy in town.”  But he was pleasantly surprised. “Everybody I’ve met here that has anything to do with music has been super good to me.”

Making friends in Nashville is also a key to success. “The most important thing you can have in this town is relationships; and the second one is good songs.” Mark says several of his best friends have gotten major cuts and #1’s without publishing companies, solely on the fact that they either wrote the song with the artist or they’re friends with the person that recorded it and their relationships are what set those up.”

Mark appreciates when fans reach out on social media; he answers messages personally and replies to comments. “What’s better than money is the Snapchats you get of people listening to your song and saying, ‘hey, I love this.’ That’s better than any kind of currency.”

Mark’s latest single was written about all the things that change when you’re in love. Check out Love Does on iTunes and Spotify. (Co-written with Matt Roy and Blue Foley)

Go to or follow him on Facebook

Get Love Does on iTunes


Favorite place to hang out: FGL House

Best sushi: Sushi O Sushi

Best barbecue: Martin’s

Best steak: Urban Grub

Mark and Jake Owen are from the same hometown (Vero Beach, FL)

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