Mark Elliott's acoustic roots run deep. As a teenager, Mark immersed himself in the vibrant bluegrass and folk music scene in Washington, D.C.. One of his earliest guitar teachers and mentors was Phil Rosenthal, from the famed bluegrass band, The Seldom Scene. A debut album (Common Ground 1988) and a last minute opening act for Tom Paxton lit the fire of the young writer, leading him to Nashville and a publishing deal with Cherry Lane Music.
Mark has gone on to staff writing positions with major publishing companies including, Bluewater Music Group, Maypop Music Group (owned by the super-group Alabama) as well as Sony Music Publishing. Mark's songs have been recorded by independent and major artists, receiving airplay on radio and TV in the United States and abroad. His songs have hit the Top Forty on charts, highlighted by the hit single by Neal McCoy, "Every Man for Himself." The song has an unusual lyrical and musical edginess and has been called the best cut on the album.
Buoyed by wins in singer-songwriter contests at major festivals across the country, Mark began to build a reputation for standout live performances. However, it was winning the Kerrville New Folk Award in 1993 that put Mark on the map, and on the road to his success. As one-half of the duo Culley & Elliott, Mark toured extensively in support of their acclaimed CD, "Flight of Dreams" (1993).
The year 2000 brought Mark back to a solo career and a successful new CD. "My Great Escape," featuring a duet with Tom Paxton (Stars in Their Eyes), was an Americana Chart's top 70 CD. The album was played on commercial and public radio programs across the United States and abroad. It generated a #2 song (She Rode Horses) on the independent country chart, "Inside Country". It was a superb album and Mark's reputation for fantastic his live shows was established.
With experience and perspective that only time and miles can bring, Mark’s 2004 release, "American Road," captures the characters, towns, and stories from his well-traveled past. "American Road" attracted vocal collaborations from luminaries Don Henry (Grammy Award-winning songwriter) and Jonell Mosser (a renowned vocalist who has sung with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, and Ringo Starr). His national touring through 2005 continued to include high profile clubs and festivals, including an official showcase spot on the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
In 2006, Mark's road led back to his Folk and Bluegrass beginnings. The CD, “Pickin' Blackberries” shares 12 new songs with some of the most respected names in acoustic music. Mark's guitar and voice, coupled with the likes of IBMA winner Jim Hurst, National finger-picking champion Pete Huttlinger and Americana Gospel Masters, The McCrary Sisters, make for a strong and genuine delivery of captivating stories!
By the fall of 2008, Mark released the CD “Good Life”. Mark with the release of “Good Life” was given accolades for having the courage to write and perform the songs the way he wanted. Mark Elliott has an obvious talent for putting together a first-rate album and when the quality is this good, it makes you feel rejuvenated.
Mark is also a newly minted author with blogs, essays and books to his credit, including "It's the Music That Makes Us Smile," his essay that is to be included in the upcoming Philip Culbertson book, "Farewelling Our Fathers".
From 2010 to the present, Mark performs as vocalist and a guitarist for Nashville Americana group, "Runaway Home". Runaway Home is easy on the ears and gentle on the soul. Their songs are not devoid of longing, loss, and sadness, but those emotions exist in a larger vibe, unmistakably joyful. Mark Elliott and Gary Culley have cultivated a sound that speaks from past experiences and life lessons, through the present, and into the great unknown. The differences in their musical backgrounds have strengthened the sound of Runaway Home into raw rhythm guitar with a hint of bluesy mandolin wrapped in the soothing strains of a mountain fiddle. The group has blended their vocals into carefully crafted and soulful harmonies that invite listeners to sit back and connect with the music.
It’s no accident that the ultimate Panoramic-Americana soundtrack for the road is consummated by a traveling band who enjoy their time on the road and the experiences they have along the way. The vagabonds have been delivering their infectious messages with smiles, sincerity, and a sort of child-like glee since 2010. The band’s early mantra has been “It’s the music that makes us smile.” True that and doubly true for friends and fans they have connected with in venues like The Dosey Doe Café outside of Houston, the Clayton Opera House in upstate New York, or the Bluebird Café in Nashville, TN.
Mark Elliott is known for his powerful rich tenor voice, once trained as an opera-singer before embracing his troubadour roots and logging countless miles as a solo folk and bluegrass artist. As a commercial country songwriter for Bluewater Music, Maypop Music, and Sony Music Publishing, Mark found Top 40 success with artists such as Chris LeDoux and Neal McCoy. Mark also released seven albums on his own.
When Mark isn't on the road with Runaway Home or writing songs, blogs and books, you’ll find him in a Cessna 172 buzzing his friends west of Nashville, in a kayak on a wild river, or hiking down a back country mountain trail in East Tennessee. He never leaves home without his Go Pro camera on him, so don’t be surprised if he adds filmmaker to his list of passions soon.
Listen to Mark's recent release "Craziest Thing" to appreciate the melding of Mark's many talents in a truly great tune.