Evangelist Mark Cartwright is being recognized for 39 years in country music. The singer/songwriter, who has called Midway home for 20 years, is being inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
Cartwright said he was born in Thompson and grew up near McRae. He said his country-music and now gospel-music career has taken him all over the East Coast, as well as Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Canada.
“I’m still very busy,” Cartwright said. “(Today) I’m performing at Magnolia Manor in Richmond Hill. On Saturday, I’ll be singing in McRae. On Sunday, I’ll give a gospel concert in Wrightsville.”
Cartwright said when his mother was pregnant with him, she decided that she wanted to learn to play the piano. Because money was tight in the 1960s, he said his father told her if he bought a piano, she’d have to learn to play it. When he was born, however, he said his mother was no longer interested.
The piano didn’t sit idle for long. By the time he was 5, Cartwright was learning to play. By age 13, he said he was singing country music professionally. Because of his age, he said his parents had to accompany him to gigs. By the time he was 16, he was writing his own songs and had become a member of Broadcast Music Inc.
In 1981 and 1982, Cartwright performed at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2001, he said he wrote and recorded the Top 40 country hit, “I’m Still Missing You.”
He said he often is introduced with the moniker, “Old Country Hoss,” which hints at his being a big man with the last name of a TV western family. In 2006, he formed Country Hoss Publishing Company with BMI.
Cartwright said he grew up attending church with his grandmother, but didn’t “surrender” his “heart and life to Jesus Christ” until 2009. Since then he began singing gospel music as well as country.
Earlier this year, he had a No. 1 gospel hit, “The Gospel Boogie,” which he wrote, recorded and released on his own label. He said the hit was at the top of the gospel charts for four weeks.
He said many of his singing engagements now are at churches and church-related events. He hasn’t given up country music, though.
“I’ve got a new country CD coming out around the first of the year,” Cartwright said. “It’s a collection of Texas swing ... I started out in what’s called the ‘golden years of country.’ I’m trying to bring country music back to where it belongs.”
Cartwright joked that being inducted into a hall of fame made him feel older than he is. He wants fans to know he still has a lot of years left in him. He and his wife, Scarlett, have three grown boys. He said his 81-year-old mother, Grace Wheeler, and his wife will be at his induction during the 32nd annual awards celebration in Atlanta on Nov. 30.
For more information about Cartwright, go to www.evangelistmarkcartwright.org or www.mrarecords.com.