We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Winters and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, why did you pursue a creative career?
My artistic journey is driven by a need to share a better connection with others. I found in my science & technology career choices early in life that I enjoyed the science and math, but I had a limited opportunity to emotionally or intellectually connect with others (outside of work related things). I found the channel, the ability, to share my thoughts and feelings through poetry early in my life (my grandmother taught me). She and I were poetry pen pals for my high school and college journey. Later as I put those thoughts to music and sang them to others, it was amazing! I am so addicted to the feeling of sharing my emotions and perspectives through music, especially in a live setting. It is a very fulfilling career choice (my 4th one), but who is counting?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I found early in my music journey that I could not sing lyrics that I didn’t believe in. What I say (and sing) really have to mean something to me, and this revelation lead me to be very selective with the covers I perform, and ultimately to write my own music. I am excited to share my “Rock With A Positive Vibe” with the world, and the positive message for my style.
Since I started music later in my life (in 2011, nothing growing up) I had to find my footing in the midst of a hectic 9-5 work and family schedule. I tried guitar lessons early on (that was where my journey started) but quickly realized that my schedule and learning style were not really giving me the results I wanted. I started watching YouTube videos, and bought some courses on Udemy (amazingly in expensive for great content) and taught myself guitar, music theory and sound recording/production. I can say I had many, many months of sore fingers and late nights dialing in my music education. Later as I started to sing, I tried the same approach, and found that live vocal instruction was a much better way for me to learn, and found a vocal coach (Wes Landry) who has really been amazing to work with.
Along my journey I have learned that to pursue a career in the arts, you have to be courageous. You will be bad, before your less bad, before your good. Along those steps people will judge you, criticize you, tell you to quit or pick a different career. My view is if your passionate about your art, you will find your voice and people who vibe with it, and you just have to put your ego and negative thoughts from others aside (not easy to do!).
I hope my journey inspires others (no matter how late in life you are!) to pursue their passions and dreams. We only have one life to live, and you should fill it with as much passion as you can (I even wrote a song about it, Red.!).
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend come to Houston for a vacation, I would love to share with them the wonderful community, food and culture of the city. Most certainly we would hit an open mic night at Avant Garden (Tuesday nights) and take in local singer songwriters and performers in a very cool outdoor garden setting. Next we would head to Churrascos’s for an amazing meal (the Churrascos steak is out of this world). I would share with them the Houston Zoo, and Discovery Green, and likely take them on a bike ride in Memorial Park (there are some wonderful mountain bike trails all around the city, and a few further north that make for great outings).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am very thankful to my grandmother (Dean C. Winters) for putting me on an artistic journey early in life. She taught me the joy of painting and poetry. Later in life, I met 3 really special guys, Manish Asthana, Pat Bullard, and John Graham. I learned to play and perform music (and enjoy a good tequila and cigar!) in a very encouraging (and slightly competitive) environment with these guys. We formed my first band (Agave Report) and still have great friendships today. As my friend Manish says, “music is gregarious”. You need to get out and play with others to truly enjoy and experience it. I am also very lucky to have met Jay Bee Zay, who runs Plug-and-Play music in Houston. His open mic nights and community all around the Houston area provide an awesome experience for musicians/bands to perform, network and experience the joy of live music in a very encouraging and supportive atmosphere. The community is lucky to have him.
Myke Toman Alexis Metoyer