Long before he started making music, Roberts had to overcome a string of childhood setbacks. A bone disorder in his right leg caused him to wear a brace, alongside a built-up shoe on the left for three painful years, each accompanied by a laundry list of activities the doctor said he would never complete. It was understandably hard to fit in and bullying became a regular occurrence, so music became a companion and comfort, especially classic Christian artists such as The Imperials during the Russ Taff era, Amy Grant and Andraé Crouch.
As he grew up, he also thankfully grew out of those ailments, being able to run, jump, climb and ride the bike he was told he never would, while praying he could one day reach the world through music, just as those iconic influences have done for decades.
“After many attempts and falls, I went astray, impatient, and started singing for me,” Roberts recalls. “Miles and miles, room after room, stage after stage, tears and years, and doing what everyone wanted me to do. I enjoyed awards and applause, but was cold and alone. Empty. It was all a blur. I was still doing what everyone told me I could not do, but there was still something missing.”
In spite of it all, the pieces finally fell into place in a manner so beyond his wildest dreams, only God could have orchestrated such a master plan. “I was recording in yet another attempt to make something happen when I met a guy who was tracking with us that day. He asked me if I had any other recordings with me that I had done and I had a Christmas/Thanksgiving song. Upon listening to it, he said to me, ‘that’s it! That’s what you’re supposed to be doing.’ He added that if I ever decided to go in that direction, he would help me all he could and produce me.”
Unbeknownst to Roberts, the offer came from none other than GRAMMY and Dove Award-winner Tom Hemby, who just so happened to be not only be the guitar player for The Imperials during the Russ Taff era, but married to Deanna Hemby, Amy Grant’s assistant.
“It would be years before I found that out,” he explains. “I would have to give up on me and give in to God before He would give me the answer to my prayer. Tom is my producer and my photo shoot was done at Amy Grant’s farm, which is my miracle circle. Only God could do that, so now I will do what God tells me I can do through Him.”
And that’s exactly what Roberts did throughout his new album “Come Alive,” featuring ten inspirational tracks which all evoke the classic days of CCM, yet are firmly planted in radio-ready sounds of today.
The uplifting title track is just one of the faith-fueling anthems that point to the increased authenticity of this already seasoned artist, who will be the first to admit feeling like he was swimming against the current pursuing such a drastic lane change later in life, but was nonetheless reminded God’s timing was truly perfect upon receiving a demo to “It’s Not Too Late (To Start Over Again).” There’s also “Teach Me,” which could also be considered Roberts’ precise prayer for restoration that he continues to play during daily devotionals, plus uplifting covers of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Bread’s “Everything I Own.” Yet it’s the opening cut, “Running Home,” that could very well be the defining soundtrack to his lifelong testimony, in addition to being a personal favorite.
“I spent my life running after the wind on the road, trying to find my door and an opening somewhere that all makes sense,” he recalls. “I guess every musician can say that. ‘Where do I get in? Where do I make a mark?’ But at the time, I was aimless. I just wanted to be a part of music, and now I have a true, specific reason to be there, and that’s to shine a light…All of these songs are gifts that describe my path, not just mine, but the process of a Christian life and a relationship with Jesus.”
Adds Roberts, “My hope is that the listeners will receive what I prayed for long ago, that I could share music that would heal people, help people and let them know they are not alone."
For more information, visit MarkRobertsAlive.com.