Mark Lowry on stage

Comedian, gospel artist brings show to Altoona

Mark Lowry will tell funny stories and sing selections from his recently released album when he comes to Altoona next week.

A Christian comedian and Southern gospel artist, he will present “An Evening with Mark Lowry” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Calvary Baptist Church, 810 Ruskin Drive.

Lowry’s CD, “What’s Not to Love, (DayWind Records) was released in mid-August, and he will sing selections from it during the concert.

A baritone who sang a collective 20 years with the Gaither Vocal Band, Lowry is also a songwriter. He wrote four of the 11 selections on the new CD and is well known for penning the words to the Christmas classic, “Mary Did You Know,” in 1984. (The music was written by Buddy Greene.)

During a telephone interview, Lowry said years ago, he really wanted to be a writer and the lyrics for the well-known holiday carol came together rather quickly for him. He said he thought at that time that all songs came together quickly for writers.

He has since learned that songwriters might take weeks to come up with the right words.

“You search your brain and Webster’s Dictionary for the perfect word,” he said. “That’s hard.”

In addition to the title track, “What’s Not to Love,” he and co-writers Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire created “Mama Prayed,” “Only Jesus” and “I Know When I’m Hearing from Home,” on the CD.

“Mama Prayed” is a tribute to Lowry’s mother.

“She could sing like Patsy Cline and preach like Billy Graham,” Lowry said, adding that she was one of the best singers he ever heard.

She loved Jesus and shared her faith, he said, and attributed her prayers to him being where he is today.

Another selection, “What If He Meant What He Said,” co-written by Chip and Billy Davis and Kim Williams, is convicting, Lowry said.

It is about loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, and being loving instead of fighting as well as being born again and being fishers of men. The lyrics point out that the Gospels attribute those words to Jesus.

Collaborating on “So You’ll Know How to Pray,” “Why Don’t We Sit and Talk” and two other selections were Rambo-McGuire, McGuire and Chip Davis.

“When those three get together, powerful stuff comes out,” Lowry said.

“So You’ll Know How to Pray” is about how people gossip with the excuse that the listener will then know how to pray for the person they are spreading the tales about.

“Why Don’t We Sit and Talk” is about speaking about the goodness of the Lord rather than judgment.

“There is nothing that I would rather do than sit and talk,” Lowry said, adding that he likes to eat, sit and talk, but he can’t do the eating at a concert.

What he will be doing is plenty of talking.

Known for his comic spin on life, he will tell humorous but true stories.

He said he comes from a family of storytellers and teased that he could not figure out why people laughed when he initially shared his testimony years ago.

Lowry emphasized that he does not tell jokes.

“When people tell jokes,” he said “my brain tunes out. But when they say: ‘Did you hear what happened to … I’m all ears.”

As with writing lyrics, Lowry said it takes a while to get a story right.

He said the storyteller has to figure out where it is going and how to get it there.

He often looks to his own life for his ideas. He said during his motorcycle crash in 2005, he told himself as the bike was going down that it was going to hurt, but to stay awake.

“You don’t want to miss this,” he said he told himself.

“The moral of the story was to sell the motorcycle and to first learn to drive a wheelchair, because you are going to need it,” Lowry said.

His humorous take on the accident can be found on YouTube and is called “Broken Leg.”

Lowry said he and the audience will go on a journey together during his concert, and he likes to come off stage and mingle with the crowd when possible.

“I like to get into faces and see the real you,” he said.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $25 for artist circle. They are available at Thompson Pharmacies in Altoona and Hollidaysburg, Music Emporium and Roaring Spring Department Store or visit itickets.com.

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