PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
BY SUSAN BURGESS
Talk to Mark Barnes and it will most likely be about
the latest festival and events at the Port St. Lucie
Botanical Gardens where he is a board member. Or,
he might be mulling ideas for a colorful new event poster.
But he has a secret hiding behind all that. He is an awardwinning
composer and musician who performs live and in
the studio, has numerous albums and owns many awards.
His albums are on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Pandora,
Amazon and more.
Barnes has won awards for the 12 instrumental albums
he created in 15 years of recording. One is the sound track
of the docudrama City of Dreams, a movie celebrating the
history of Port St. Lucie on its 50th anniversary, where he
worked with two-time Academy Award nominee Carol
Connors. The music and movie took both the Best Original
Song and the Best Documentary awards at the Treasure
Coast International Film Festival.
He hopes for a Grammy nomination for his latest album,
Luminescence, which incorporates lines from famous
speeches — from John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill
and others — in its instrumental songs making for some
fascinating listening. It was released in October. With the
spoken word intros and a stronger beat, the album differs
from his previous ones. That is especially true for Luna
Nocturna which begins with John F. Kennedy speaking.
Music critics’ reactions were everything a musician
“Award-winning composer Mark Barnes has garnered
recognition for his albums all around North America. His
ambient/electronic music delves into other genres, but
sometimes defies description,” wrote J.J. Lannan for Artisan
Music Reviews. “Luminescence, using a variety of spoken
word gems in combination with driving soundscapes,
make his themes constantly interesting. Highly listenable.”
“Luminescence by Mark Barnes has to be the best work
of the artist thus far; I seem to have been a fan of his music
for so many years now, but here on Luminescence, and in
my view, he has pushed himself harder and further, and
really embraced the future,” wrote Steve Sheppard of
Steve Sheppard Music Reviews. “This has to be one of the
most powerful and empowering albums of the year so far,
and one very easy to recommend to anyone with an open
heart and mind, and a willing ear.”
Barnes, nicknamed Barnsey by his friends, is inspired by
landscapes, weather, people, drama and change, he says.
“I love a couple of gloomy days to put me into the mood.
It helps pull the music out.”
One thing that baffles many nonmusicians is the art of
composing music. How does one do that?
“It’s all done in my head,” Barnes explains. “I don’t
write anything down. I just hear something in my head
and sit down at the keyboard and let my fingers go where
they want. Sometimes there is only silence and then I play
He does not compose lyrics — his music is all instrumental,
sometimes known as ambient or New Age.
Interestingly enough, for his last two albums he said he
38 Port St. Lucie Magazine
MARK BARNES PHOTOS
Musician Mark Barnes takes a break from working on his latest piece.
The music in Luminescence, Barnes’s latest album, includes inspiring snippets
from speeches made by President John F. Kennedy and British Prime
MInister Winston Churchill.