WANT TO GO?
Mark Lowry, with special guest William Barfield
WHERE: Charleston Municipal Auditorium
WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: $25INFO: Call 800-745-3000 or visit www.charlestonciviccenter.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Christian singer/songwriter and funnyman Mark Lowry has a really basic message he brings to all of his shows.
"I want people to know that God is good," the 55-year-old said. "He's really not mad at them and that life can be a lot of fun."
That's what he wants people to take away when they come to his show Sunday night at the Municipal Auditorium.
Perhaps best known for his long association with Bill Gaither and the Gaither Homecoming tours, Lowry mixes gospel music with some family-friendly humor. He's either a singer who tells stories or a storyteller who happens to sing a lot.
"I usually know what my first song is going to be," Lowry said. "I tell Stan Whitey, my piano player, right as I'm walking out."
Whitey has all the music on his iPad, and he can usually figure out what Lowry's going to do next based on the stories he tells.
"He's always listening," Lowry said.
What he says and what he sings can change from night to night, but the only song he's guaranteed to play every night is one of his own: "Mary, Did You Know?"
Outside Lowry's show, the reverential gospel song is usually heard around Christmastime in one form or another. It was first recorded by Michael English in the early 1980s, followed shortly thereafter by Kathy Mattea. Since then, it's been re-recorded by dozens of others, including Clay Aiken and most recently, Cee Lo Green.
"I've lost count of who else has done it," Lowry said, although he added that he's heard some unusual versions over the years.
"Actually, there's a disco version by an artist named Kristine W. -- and it's actually very good."
His favorite is the version done by the Christ Church Gospel Choir, from Nashville.
"It's epic," he said. "It sounds like a movie soundtrack. I cried the first time I heard it, and I don't cry at nothing."