Local soul artist hopes McDonald's will help launch career

They say every celebrity has a distinct journey to fame, and for this local soul artist, it might be his last two years working at the North Baltimore McDonald's that might get him his big break.

Mark Hager is known in Kirksville for his Sunday singing at the Church of the Nazarene. But now, the college student has taken his music to the public, and has become one of 22 semifinalists for the Voice of McDonald's contest. It's a competition for McDonald's employees around the world to show off their vocal skills and have a chance at winning $25,000 along with a demo.

Hager got involved in the contest when his store owner, Holly Lynch, encouraged him to apply.

"He's really good and he's just so natural at it," Lynch said. "It's not only on his voice but it's also on stage presence and originality and Mark has the whole package."

"Sweet love, oh she's pouring like a flood. Your eyes, my eyes."

That's part of the lyrics of the song, "Sweet Love," which Hager wrote and submitted on video back in August to enter the contest. His original lyrics which discuss an old flame is what helped him win his semifinalist title, beating out other applicants from about 500 stores in the Heartland.

"It's kind of surreal," said Hager. "There's been a lot of neat things happening. I had the opportunity to go to Chicago about a month ago and record the music video. That's on the McDonald's website now."

What's ironic about Hager is that after all of his recent success, he's still not putting all of his hopes into becoming a professional singer.

"I have a couple ideas. I'm not entirely sure of exactly what I want to do," said Hager. "I've contemplated maybe going to A.T. Still University here in town for medical school . I've thought about getting my M.B.A."

And his music career...

"It's on the peripheral for sure but it's one of those things where I'm just kind of seeing if it happens. I'm not sure if I want to put all of my eggs in one basket. "

The next step for Hager is to become a finalist in the global singing contest. Click here if you'd like to vote for him.