If Larry Norman was the Old Testament prophet and Randy Stonehill was the silly, sentimental one, then Mark Heard was the wry observer of the pioneering musicians in Christian music. Heard often focused on the sad human condition and the hope of renewal someday, interspersing it with Applachian and folk influences. He associated himself with lot of great Southern artists such as Bill Mallonee, Peter Buck of R.E.M., Pierce Pettis and also bands like the The Choir. Heard quietly knocked out a string of solid albums in the 80’s before becoming a producer. In the 90’s he returned with some of his finest works.
There are a couple of clips from Heard’s final show at Cornerstone 1992 on YouTube that I had trouble picking one. I settled on “Satellite Sky” because it seems pretty emblematic of Mark Heard:
Heard’s show in 1992 at Cornerstone was his last because sometime during the show while performing with Pierce Pettis and Kate Miner he suffered a heart attack. After finishing the show, Heard was transported to the hospital. Two weeks after being released, he suffered cardiac arrest and passed away.
Two years later at Cornerstone Festival 1994, some of Heard’s friends, including Ashley Cleveland, Rich Mullins, and Randy Stonehill performed a tribute show to Heard at the Gallery Stage. Some of these songs were later recorded for a tribute album called Strong Hand of Love