You Can’t Cheat This Small Town Singer

Mark Cooke is a singer songwriter from the small town of Longview, Texas. His debut single “Can’t Cheat in a Small Town” charted at number 54. His current single is “I Love It.”

CMP writer Paige Colgin had a chance to interview Mark and find out more about him, and what makes him so different from other artists out there.

CMP: Tell me a little bit about your background/basic bio stuff.

Mark: My name is Mark Cooke and I’m from Longview, Texas which is between Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana. I went to Pine Tree High School but moved to a neighboring town my senior year and graduated from Union Grove High School and I graduated with about 50…that was one good way of making the top 50 in the best grades! I come from a working middle class family with a twin sister Melony and little sister Reagan. Melony married my lead guitarist Joe Rodriguez and they have four children all together and Reagan has served in Iraq twice.

Joe and I started our band in 1998 and toured everywhere with the band we formed. We mostly played in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. In 2002, I was introduced and signed as a writer to French Wine Music with Laura Heatherly through a friend of mine in Dallas, Max Archer. Laura and her husband Bob Heartherly threw me a welcome to Nashville type party which would be the day I met my future producer, J Gary Smith.

J Gary Smith and I hit every trench at least twice on getting things started lol. I felt as if the odds were against us and we would wind up setting everything down but I kept praying and kept moving forward. One day I woke up and had a heart to heart with God and ask him if this was in his will for me, if He would take it to the next level and if it wasn’t if He would break my band up and finish my music dream so I could just move on to something different. Within days it happened, I had found a very intelligent and enthusiastic business man through a friend. Both of these friends would wind up meeting with my producer and forming CVR….so in other words they all instantly became my bosses lol. I finally became a signed artist and veteran J Gary Smith became president of our new company. Don’t tell me that prayers don’t get answered! haha

CMP: What made you decide to make the transition from being in the Navy to a singer?

Mark: I was a BM3 which is a Boatswain’s Mate 3rd class petty officer. Some folks think all you are in charge of are a bunch of “Deck Apes “which is a Navy term for undesignated personal…but I met more cool folks in that division. My favorite command was the USS Inchon MCS-12, which was a mother of all mine-sweeps. It was converged first of its kind and used to be a helicopter carrier. I loved seeing the world, about 30 countries, but I knew my heart was in Country music. I do miss the Navy and the friends and sometimes it feels like an unfinished chapter of my life but I served my four years and started my band.

CMP: How did you feel when the Navy Seals took down Bin Laden?

Mark: I am relieved that the world has one less evil terrorist to worry about, Justice was served.

CMP: Who are your musical influences?

Mark: I have so many influences, gosh I don’t know where to start….I would say that I really look up to and like are Merle Haggard, George Strait, Waylon Jennings, Tracy Lawrence, Don Henley and the Eagles, Tom Petty, Journey, Led Zeppelin…I’m an old/new country and classic rock junkie!

CMP: What does Nashville mean to you?

Mark: Nashville use to mean a place to visit and check out the historic sites and hit the bars with live bands, now it means home lol….I go downtown every now and then, though I don’t go out much, I still try to go watch showcases and concerts.

CMP: If you could make anything happen right now for you in the music business, what would that be?

Mark: Wow! well I wouldn’t change anything really, I’ve been playing in a bands for years but I realize that when you get signed, your dues starts over because you are in a bigger market so I’m willing to pay more dues lol…I guess I would like to find me a cool opening tour at the time and finish the album so I can play out more.

CMP: How do you go about choosing which songs you want to record?

Mark: Whether I wrote it or some other songwriter wrote it, I’ll cut it giving the chance if I relate, believe it and can deliver it.

CMP: What instruments do you play?

Mark: acoustic guitar and harmonica….My favorite guitars I own are my papaw’s 64 Gibson hummingbird and Taylor 810ce.

CMP: What do you want your fans to take away from your music?

Mark: I want them to know that I am an easy going guy that enjoys what he does and appreciate every fan.

CMP: What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working on your music?

Mark: I love being on the lake in a boat or in the woods on a four wheeler. I’m a big hunter…mostly Whitetail deer and wild hogs and love to fish for Largemouth Bass. I try to work out at least 5 days a week. I also try to get my golf game a little better at times. When I get the chance I like going home and catch a Texas Ranger baseball game.

You can find out more about Mark’s music and upcoming tour dates by visiting his websites at and


Read ON

On the “Hick-Libs”

While the hick-lib celebrities would have us believe that Appalachia and rural Oklahoma is home to covert gay coal miners and queer cowboys, the overwhelming

Read more >
Country Music Pride