Mark Christopher Brandt
“We get one life. It’s up to us to find our purpose. It is our duty to find the reason for our existence, and to bring joy and light to those around us who have not yet discovered theirs.”
Mark Christopher Brandt
When I was a junior in high school I began to envision myself as an artist for life. It was no longer a dream. It was a reality I was living and which I planned never to “un-live.” Artists do not have careers - every aspect of life is part of an artist’s career. Artists have journeys. Every job, no matter what it is, influences the artist’s music and is a necessary part of his life journey.
All of my peers told me that I would not be able to make a living as a jazz musician. They said that the purpose, need and/or market for a composer of music not geared towards the pop-culture was marginal. Many well-meaning adults told me that jazz was dead. Others simply said that music is a world of drugs and alcohol and that it should be avoided at all cost. The list of ways I would likely fail was extensive. The list of possible successes was non-existent. Everyone said, "Mark, you will not make it.”
My father pulled me aside once and said, “Listen Mark, at the rate you are going no woman will ever love you, you’re not going to be able to have a house or a family. You need to think this music thing through better.”
The girl I dated in high school was a singer in my first professional group. One day, after a gig, the band director from the high school I attended asked me point blank, “Do you think you will make it as an artist?” I answered with no hesitation, “Yes.” He looked at her and said, “That’s why Mark is going to succeed. He has no idea how he will make it and he has no idea how he could fail. He has only the option for success.” The band director then asked her the same question and she shook her head saying, “I am just not that selfish to devote my life to something like that and ignore everyone else around me.” In that moment I knew my dad was right about women and wrong about music.
Everyone else was wrong too. I am now almost sixty years old and I have never been anything but an artist. I am not simply a jazz musician. I am not simply a classical pianist. I am a composer of all types of music. I am an artist.
So how did this happen against all odds? Because the odds were never against me. People who are not artists, and people who are artists but lack the courage to follow their paths, make the odds. They lay down the pitfalls. They announce where the failures will occur. These “odds” are based on the majority of people in the world. The true artist, however, is not a member of the world. He lives in the world but he is not of it.
The artist has two paths to choose from:
A) Follow your dreams and do all for the glory of God.
B) Follow your dreams and do all for the glory of self.
I began with B and switched to A.
In high school I was in a band that won the talent show. One of the pieces we performed was Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Is there irony here? Yes. Not simply in the name of the song. The name of our band was The No Name Band. Is there destiny here? Yes. The lyrics I sang rang true. “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
As I traveled the B path I got more and more recognition and became more and more unhappy. When I switched to the A path I met my wife, bought a house and raised a family. I am still composing music of all kinds with no compromise to my personal integrity and no end to my creativity.
…And for the record, thanks be to God, the Author of all that is good, my dad was wrong about women, and I am still playing jazz too.
Purchase the lead sheets and full scores to all of my music when you visit my store!