Monday, February 08, 2010

Mark Lowry: Comedian, Lyricist & Singer

One of my favourite characters in contemporary Christian world stage is a singer, comedian, lyricist and a strong advocate of the Gospel who is a house-hold name world-wide. He has been making people laugh, cry and think for about 40 years now. Singing publicly and recording albums and videos since age eleven, you could say that he has done this most of his life.
Mark Lowry was born in Houston, TX, on June 24, 1958. He has a 'perfect' older brother, Mike, who lives in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife and four children, as well as a 'perfect' younger sister, Melissa who also lives in Lynchburg with her husband and two children. Mark's father (Charles) is an attorney and Mark's mother (Beverly) speaks and sings all over the country at various conferences. Beverly has been featured on two of Mark's recordings.
Mark attended Liberty College (now Liberty University) in Lynchburg, VA, from 1975 to 1980 where he first intended to gain a Business degree. In 1976, Mark felt God was calling him to a music ministry and, when he graduated in 1980 with a Youth degree, he began performing at independent Baptist churches around the country. His first booking agent, Roy Morgan, booked Mark in 43 cities in 41 days. As Mark put it, "This boy could book a pork chop into a synagogue."
Mark tells how in the early days he would have to fill the gaps between his songs while he was waiting for the little old man in the back of the church to change his soundtracks. "Those few seconds of 'dead air' can feel like hours when you're on stage facing a crowd - so, to fill time, I'd start talking about my life and my testimony. People would laugh... and I finally realized I was on to something."
And that's how Mark's well-known comedy was born. His unique presentations have been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
In 1988, Mark was offered the baritone part in the Gaither Vocal Band. Mark remained with the Vocal Band for 13 years, performing dozens of solo concerts each year, as well. Mark's antics on stage with Bill Gaither were an instant hit with Vocal Band audiences and their comedy became the highlight of the evening when the Homecoming tour was born. Mark has been featured on most all of the Gaither Homecoming videos - now numbering more than one hundred - often in the co-hosting role with Bill.
In 1984, Mark wrote the lyric to a song that would establish his status as a songwriter forever. When his church asked him to write a Christmas play, he wrote down a series of questions that he would like to ask Jesus' mother, Mary. These questions were used as a 'filler' between the scenes of the play. Six years later, after two other writers had already tried, Buddy Greene wrote music to Mark's lyric and Mary, Did You Know? was born. This beautiful song, which has become a modern Christmas standard, has been recorded by more than thirty different artists including Michael English, Kathy Mattea, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd, Billy Dean, Natalie Cole, Donnie Osmond and Clay Aiken.
In 2004, Mark released his first Christmas CD. It features ten beloved Christmas songs, including Mary, Did You Know?
Mark has recorded six comedy and music videos - four of which have gone 'Gold' and two of which have achieved 'Platinum' status. Mark Lowry on Broadway d├ębuted at #1 on the Billboard music video chart and stayed there for five weeks.
Mark's latest video, Mark Lowry Goes To Hollywood, was released in September, 2005. "I've enjoyed every video I've produced through the years. But, I must say, this is my all time favorite. I love what I was able to say at the very end of the video ... that God is truly, absolutely, unconditionally out of His ever-loving mind in love with US! How fortunate are we? I want the world to see this video. Not because it's funny or because of the music but because I believe so strongly in the message."
In 2005, Mark and some friends ventured into event planning and launched the Mark Lowry Senior Trip. Mark wanted to create a fun and relaxed vacation for folks over 50, with entertainment and shows created with them in mind. The inaugural Senior Trip was held in April, 2006, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN, and Mark's Christmas Celebration Senior Trip was held December 10-12, 2006 in Asheville, NC. The 2007 slate included Branson, MO in April and a return trip to Gaylord Opryland for Christmas. Gaylord Opryland Hotel hosted the final event in April 2008.
Mark continues to travel across the country with LordSong and Stan Whitmire on the 'Be The Miracle' tour. During these concerts, Mark shares his exciting and revitalized message of God's love and grace. This message comes through loud and clear in his three most recent CDs, Life Gets Loud (released January, 2009), Be The Miracle (released January, 2006) and I Love To Tell The Story which is Mark's first all-hymns project (released September, 2007).
In January 2009, after an absence of over seven years, Mark Lowry re-joined the Gaither Vocal Band along with fellow Gaither Vocal Band alumni Michael English and David Phelps. With the brand new five-voice Gaither Vocal Band and a GVB Reunion DVD (released in January 2009), GVB fans who have longed for a reunion both on stage and off finally get their wish. (www.marklowry.com)

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