Gospel singer-songwriter and evangelist Mark Cartwright returned home to perform locally Sunday at the Manse at Bryan Neck Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill.
Cartwright has called Midway his home for more than 20 years. Although he’s been recognized for nearly 40 years in country music, he said his heart is for gospel music because it allows him to affect the lives of those who hear him. Also an evangelist, Cartwright said gospel music is just one of the ways he spreads the Gospel — the “good news” — about Jesus.
“I do love country music,” said Cartwright, who was recognized in November 2013 by the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame for 39 years in the industry. “Whenever I sing gospel music, I feel a true connection to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Gospel music has an everlasting impact on a person and — with the Holy Spirit — can bring someone to Christ. Good, clean country music is fun to do, but whenever I see I’ve made a difference in a person’s life, then I feel a sense of true accomplishment.”
He said most country music and gospel music basically are the same. If the people like the lyrics and the melody is good, he said people enjoy it. Music is a universal language, he said.
Cartwright said he enjoys listening to classic country music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and even Big Band music from the 1940s. Most of all, he likes to listen to what he likes to sing gospel music. He admits even with gospel music, he has a particular favoritism toward Southern Gospel through groups like the McKameys from Clinton, Tennessee, and Gospel Hall of Fame inductees the Hoppers from Madison, North Carolina.
Although he’s never been part of a Southern Gospel quartet, Cartwright said he occasionally has sung with his wife, Scarlett.
He writes both country and gospel music, but Cartwright said he approaches writing each music genre differently. When writing a gospel song, he depends entirely on inspiration from God. He has, in fact, written songs and then realized later the lyrics were supported by Scripture and not simply what he thought or how he felt about it.
“I enjoy recording and working in my studio, which is located behind my home (in Midway),” he said, explaining what he does to relax when he’s not touring the Southeast. “I also enjoy spending quality time with my family and my special friends.”
Part of Cartwright’s Richmond Hill concert promoted his new gospel album, “Half ‘N’ Half Ain’t Bad,” which was released earlier this year by Tate Music Group. Cartwright said he began playing the piano when he was 5 years old and became a professional entertainer at 13. It wasn’t until 2009, however, that he totally surrendered his life to Jesus, whom he now preaches through his gospel music.
“If you enjoy good, uplifting, toe-tapping music presented in a professional, clean manner, then you would love to catch me in concert,” Cartwright said. “I love to get the audience involved.”