FHSU grad returns to Kansas for Salina show

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

SALINA -- From Fort Hays State University to Nashville, singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Selby started his career playing locally in Hays and eastern Kansas before eventually making it to the big time.

On Sunday, Selby will be back in Kansas, playing at 8 p.m. at Stiefel Theatre in Salina. With his wife, Tia Sillers, who also is a performer and songwriter, Selby will be performing the opening act for Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

"It is always a homecoming when I get to come back to Kansas to play," Selby said. "I feel like my greatest concentration of friends and music related people were from Hays and Salina. It is always great to see them again."

Selby graduated from FHSU with a degree in guitar and music composition.

His career has been one of unusual depth and diversity.

Selby has recorded multiple albums and has toured in the United States, Canada and Germany.

Though he has established his own performing career, his most notable achievements have been in a support role for others.

Selby has written songs for artists in multiple genres and plays guitar in recording sessions for different performers.

He has written more than 10 top-40 singles and four No. 1 hits.

Selby co-wrote the Dixie Chicks' Grammy-winning "There's Your Trouble" and Shepherd's "Blue on Black" -- not too bad for a kid who grew up in Enid, Okla., and spent his time learning new chord progressions in the FHSU music department.

Selby said it is a surreal experience playing in recording sessions with stars he listened to on the radio growing up, such as Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap.

"It is thrilling to get to work with those big stars in the studio," Selby said. "Those folks are regular Joes -- some more than others."

Selby studied at FHSU during the 1980s and lived near Lake Wabaunsee during the early 1990s, where he played with bands and developed his musical talent.

"My years in the music department at Fort Hays and my opportunity to play in bands and clubs while I was in college gave me the foundation to build my career upon," Selby said.

He moved to Nashville in 1993, where he signed a publishing contract with Tom Collins Publishing Co.

After just starting his job there, Selby was pulled into Collins' office one day, where he was asked to write music for Shepherd -- who then was an up-and-coming young blues prodigy.

It was the start of nearly a two-decade writing relationship.

Shepherd has taken seven singles into the Top 10, and he has been nominated for five Grammy Awards and received two Billboard Music Awards, two Blues Music Awards and two Orville H. Gibson Awards.

"One of the real cool things for me was seeing Kenny Wayne grow and mature as both an artist and a human being," Selby said. "He was a teenager when I first started working with him. It was like being an older brother or an uncle or something."