Essential Tracks: Miko Marks on the Songs That Define Her Career
Born in Flint, Mich., acclaimed singer-songwriter Miko Marks is an expert at persevering. She's faced a range of struggles and challenges in her lifetime, from severe pollution poisoning the water in her hometown to systemic racism within the music industry. Marks channels all that she's felt and learned from those experiences into her music, unafraid to speak up and create art on her own terms.
After taking a 13 year break from music from 2007-2020, Marks has returned with a powerful message of love, unity and self discovery that has left her more determined than ever to make a name for herself by doing what she loves. After releasing both Our Country and Race Records in 2021 via Redtone Records, Marks readying a new batch of music that's expected to be released this fall.
She recently released the first single from her upcoming project, “Feel Like Going Home,” an incredibly personal tune that touches on her journey back to music after over a decade away, in pursuit of her life’s purpose.
“The song is talking about how I’m the wanderer and I no longer feel like I have to roam around searching for my place in music and the world,” Marks told The Boot during an interview last month. “I’ve also settled into a sound that’s more authentic to who I am, so that song isn’t just about my return to the music industry, but a return to my roots as well.”
Get to know more about the California-based talent as she tells us, in her own words, about the songs that have become an essential part of her story as an artist. These are Miko Marks' Essential Tracks:
"Mama"From: 'Freeway Bound' (2005)“‘I wrote ‘Mama’ for my first album “Freeway Bound” in the early 2000s after my mother passed away,” says Marks. “She never got to hear the album and would have been so proud. She would always ask me ‘When are you gonna write me a song?’ This song is timeless and will keep us connected spiritually forever. At the time, I was a fairly new mama myself and the song comforted me and gave me guidance in my career and as a mother. I hope the listeners who still have parents around to enjoy really slow down the moments and take nothing for granted.”
"We Are Here"From: 'Our Country' (2021)“‘We Are Here’ was completed in 2020 but I started writing it in 2018,” says Marks. “The song was written about my hometown, Flint, Michigan and was born out of pain as my family and community continue to struggle. Economic and environmental issues, and other forms of social injustice continue to plague my city in particular. There has been very little relief around poisoned water that continues to flow throughout the city with little aid. A forgotten town with poverty is now woven into the fabric of what was once a thriving middle-class community. The people are strong and resilient and deserve to be seen and heard and this is a song written with their voices in mind.”
"Hold It Together"From: 'Our Country' (2021)“‘Hold It Together’ was written in 2020 with my good friend and guitarist for 15 years, Victor Campos,” Marks explains. “The year has been volatile, uncertain and disheartening to say the least. The pandemic, systemic racism and economic injustice have been at the forefront of our country’s darkest hours. As a divided nation, we cannot stand. We must come together and face our truths, healing our wounds through unity. The only way we can do this is to listen to the voices of the people, practicing compassion and self-reflection so that we can be a better nation.”
"Mercy"From: 'Our Country' (2021)“‘Mercy’ is a prayer for protection and power in the fight for freedom,” says Marks. “Protection for Black, Brown and Indigenous children especially and power to overcome all forms of oppression and injustice. The song starts off with really heavy imagery of crying mothers at their children’s graves, but ends with a lot of strength and hope, with the spirit moving us toward victory.”
"Ancestors"From: 'Our Country' (2021)“I was a little scared and apprehensive about coming back to music, but at the same time I recognized that I have a gift that needed to be shared,” Marks notes. “‘Ancestors’ ties into the fact that I can’t do this alone. I’m being helped out and guided through the process by my ancestors that came before me.”
“Travel Light”From: 'Our Country' (2021)“‘Travel Light’ is about not sweating the small stuff in life and allowing it to weigh you down,” says Marks. “Instead it’s important to travel light in your mind, heart and spirit. It’s a big world out there. There’s only so much you can do and control, so don’t take it all too seriously.”
"Long Journey Home"From: 'Race Records' (2021)“I recorded this Monroe Brothers song for my Race Records EP that shines a light on music that Black artists in roots music have helped to create,” says Marks. “Black people always have and always will be a part of the foundation of country music. The only thing separating the two was marketing—country music for white people and race records for Black people. This album was done to show that our music, as well as everyone else’s, is part of what makes country music so great.”