Born and raised in Granite City, Illinois to a steel worker and a stay at home mother, Mark still lives in his home town. He graduated Granite City High School -South in 1979 and shortly after married his high school sweetheart Mary Earney. Mark and Mary have two grown children and three grandchildren. They are still married and still very much in love. Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2008, Mark retired from his long career as a structural draftsman and started Single Rose Studio, LLC. Still in the development stage, Single Rose will provide support facilities for artists of all ages and styles. Mark spends most of his time in business development, or writing and recording demos of his new songs he hopes will be played by St. Louis musicians.
By Mark Whitehead, Mary Whitehead, and Heather Cardinale
Checkout Time is my favorite song we wrote for Closed Doors and Open Windows. It started with a study of guitar scales, often referred to by guitarists as “pattern scales” or the “caged system.”
Well, looks like the summer is over and it’s time to go back to work. This summer was particularly beautiful with cooler than normal temperatures all season long and enough rain to keep the grass green and the river full. It’s also back to work for St. Louis artist Genevieve Esson who is employed by St. Louis Special School District as a teacher’s aid.
We met Genevieve one Saturday morning at Tower Grove Park were she had a vendor’s booth at the farmers market, a summer tradition. Mary and I had wanted to check out the market for a long time, but for one reason or another had not had the pleasure. As I was wandering through the crowded market trying to decide whose strawberries to buy, I spotted a tent with all kinds of bold paintings for sale. Bright florescent colors dancing and swirling around creating trees and suns and birds and all kinds of other figures and shapes. Mary and I were both impressed with the art and the artist. I didn’t buy any produce that Saturday but I did buy a couple of greeting cards and ask her if she would talk to us about her work. She agreed to talk with me for OnStl.com and here’s what I discovered:
By Mark Whitehead and Mary Earney Whitehead
Songs come to writers sometimes in ways we don’t want anyone to know about. This week’s song is an example of how these things happen. The song is called Bits and Pieces take 2.
The “take 2 “is because I originally recorded the demo as a jazz song, with a much faster tempo. But I felt a disconnect between the lyrics and the melody, so I slowed it down and made it more blues-y.
One generation plants the seed the next gets the shade. Creating, stimulating, and perpetuating the arts.
These words can be found on the doors of the new Alfresco Art Center in Granite City. This new venue is the vision of first ward alderwoman Brenda Whitaker. It will facilitate artistic and cultural events. Whitaker, who graduated from Granite City high School South in 1980, owns the Garden Gate Tea Room, was a steel worker at Granite City Steel for 15 years. The creative force behind a great effort to renew the West side of Granite City where she lives, The Alfresco Art Center is by far her most ambitious project to date.
Always is a song I wrote about Mary. At the time I was talking to a local singer I had never met about singing some of my songs. She told me she liked my songs but felt they needed something to make them more interesting. Her thought was to add a bridge or two. Also, I was working with the agent of another singer who asked me to write something for her client. I decided to write one song for both of them. It was to be a duet, with two bridges. I had in mind what I wanted to say, and how the song was to sound. That almost never happens. Usually a song evolves and the end product bears no resemblance to the starting point.
I’m often asked by people who know I play the guitar why professionals use several different guitars in a single show. Many times my answer is, “I simply don’t know.” I suppose it could be due to a product endorsement contract. I’ve never been offered a product endorsement contract, but I do know they exist. Another plausible answer could be a particular guitar may lend itself to the sound the musician is looking for.
Welcome, St. Louis, to Single Rose Studio by way of my new blog here on OnSTL.com. My wife Mary and I are excited about having the opportunity to talk about our songs, our art, and our lives here in St. Louis. We will be talking about projects here at Single Rose Studio and the things we learn in the process of writing songs and recording demos.