Mark D. Sanders—co-writer of country classic “I Hope You Dance,” among other hits—describes his journey to the top of the country charts during this May 26, 2012, edition of Poets and Prophets, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s ongoing series to honor songwriters.
A California native, Sanders endured a difficult upbringing and at first pursued a teaching career before translating his love for literature into songwriting.
Arriving in Nashville in the mid-1980s, he joined a group of young songwriters who eventually became the hitmakers of the 1990s. Over that decade, Sanders put together a long string of #1s, including “Money in the Bank” (John Anderson), “Heads Carolina, Tails California” (Jo Dee Messina), “Blue Clear Sky” (George Strait), and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (Reba McEntire).
In this interview with the Museum’s Michael Gray, Mark D. Sanders identifies “I Hope You Dance” as his “career song,” and talks about how he and Tia Sillers were inspired to write it and how Lee Ann Womack came to record it. He also discusses the impact the song has had on listeners’ lives and his own.
Sanders performs “I Hope You Dance,” as well as “It Matters to Me” (a hit for Faith Hill) and “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”
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