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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Southern gospel great Mark Lowry is taking next year off

Marky Lowry, filmed by Dena Davidson in Times Square, for "Dinner Conversations"

Beloved southern gospel superstar Mark Lowry was in New York yesterday to interview Kathie Lee Gifford for his Dinner Conversations:Turning the Light On One Question at a Time, with Mark Lowry and Andrew Greer—gospel music being a part of the considerable singing-songwriting aspect of Gifford’s career.

While the Gifford episode wraps up the third season of Dinner Conversations, Lowry is still putting up his Mondays with Mark series live at 7 p.m. Central on his YouTube channel (featuring interviews and his unique takes on life, God, haircuts, M&Ms and whatever else pops into his mind), also his sporadic From the La-Z-Boy webcasts from his recliner at home in Houston.

“It’s the day everybody hates—and the day I’m usually at home!” the uproariously funny Lowry said of Mondays with Mark, alluding to what is usually an otherwise relaxing day back at home after a weekend or more of out-of-town concert performances.

But after decades of performing music and comedy, solo or in groups (most notably, Bill Gaither’s Gaither Vocal Band), Lowry, who also co-wrote (with Buddy Greene) the contemporary Christian Christmas standard “Mary, Did You Know?,” is now preparing to take the next year off.

"Mary, Did You Know?"

“Last January I started thinking about retiring,” said Lowry, who then paused. “No! Don’t use that word! Sabbatical. That’s a good word. I hate it when people retire and then come back. Just say I’m taking a sabbatical!“

But Lowry is in fact selling his “Immaculate Contraption” tour bus in preparations for his forthcoming year off the road, while downsizing to a Buddy Kick scooter that he’s already tested in Virginia, Colorado, Georgia and “all over Houston.”

“I’m not quitting, but taking a year off,” he continued, then responded to the suggestion that his legion of fans will be adversely affected by his absence.

“If you don’t mention it, they wouldn’t know!” he modestly, if incorrectly, surmised. “Who follows anybody that closely, anyway? And if they do, they shouldn’t!”

Lowry, citing the emergence of fine young Christian comedy talent like John Crist, then reflected on some wisdom imparted upon him early in his career by Gaither.

“Bill said, ‘You know why they still want the old man around? It’s because he isn't always around.’ He meant, Don’t be so available. Leave them wanting more!”

Gospel Music Hall of Famer Lowry, who in 2016 received the prestigious ASCAP Golden Note Award in recognition of his extraordinary career and lasting impact on modern worship music, recalled how he used to “go to everything” early on, the Gospel Music Awards, “the opening of an envelope. I felt like I’d been on the outside looking in, so I was always willing, and wouldn’t stop. But as for getting on a bus and doing four nights in a row, I’m not doing that anymore.”

Having been working consistently since 1980—though he secured his first recording contract at 11--Lowry, now 60, concluded, “I never had any plans, and I’m surprised I got this far.” And while what comes next is likewise unplanned, he looks to continue with his Web work, and does have one appearance lined up for next year—and it’s a big one: Mark Lowry’s Spring Fling Cruise, also featuring The Martins, Taranda Greene, The Ball Brothers and Stan Whitmire, slated for March 23-28.

"Dogs Go to Heaven"



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