Mark Lowry to headline local cancer benefit

Jessica Fischer • Aug 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Known for joking around with Bill Gaither in the “Gaither Homecoming” series and for his beloved Christmas song “Mary Do You Know?” Christian comedian, singer and songwriter Mark Lowry will bring his “Unplugged and Unplanned” Tour to Bristol’s Paramount Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 7.

Pianist Stan Whitmire will join Lowry for the 6 p.m. show, the fourth in a series of concerts sponsored by the Crooked Road General Store to help cancer patients in the Tri-Cities.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the No Worries (NOW) fund administered by the Wellmont Foundation. The Wellmont Cancer Institute works with the foundation to distribute the money to those who need financial help for emergency and personal needs during their treatment at Bristol Regional Medical Center.

“It is marvelous to raise funds for major projects that can positively impact the lives of cancer patients,” said Marla Edwards, owner of the Crooked Road General Store. “Looking for a cure is great as well. But for someone who doesn’t have gas money or clean pajamas to wear to treatments, the need is now.”

Lowry started making music at the age of 11, and more than four decades later, he has sealed his legacy as an entertaining communicator who can, at once, make audiences laugh, cry and think.

His lyrics to “Mary Did You Know?” resulted in one of the most loved Christmas songs of this century. The song, which he co-wrote with Buddy Greene, has been recorded more than 400 times by artists from every genre, including Reba McEntire, Cee Lo Green, Clay Aiken, Michael English, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd, The Gaither Vocal Band and a long list of others.

Lowry has spent more than 20 collective years as the baritone singer for the Grammy Award-winning Gaither Vocal Band and serves as the sidesplitting comedic sidekick for Bill Gaither through live concert tours and the best-selling “Gaither Homecoming” video series and television airings (now more than 150 volumes strong).

A deep thinker and student of theology with an outrageous sense of humor (for which he often credits his diagnosis with Attention Deficit Disorder), Lowry boasts a long list of recordings and DVDs, including “Mark Lowry On Broadway,” “Mark Lowry Goes To Hollywood,” “Life Gets Loud,” “I Love To Tell the Story” (his first all-hymns recording), “Unplugged and Unplanned,” “Whatcha Need” and, most recently, “Unforgettable Classics.”

In spite of the broad range of musical inspiration found in Lowry’s discography, there is one element that never changes: his gift for communicating profound truths through music and storytelling that keeps audiences of all ages on the edge of their seats.

Lowry maintains a full schedule of solo concerts as well as Gaither Vocal Band tour dates and performances at Women of Faith Conferences across North America.

“Because it’s at the Paramount, which seats about 750 people, this concert will be very personal,” Edwards said. “Mark makes you feel like he is only performing for you anyway, and with this smaller auditorium, the ‘Unplanned and Unplugged’ show will be an intimate one. You won’t be disappointed.”

Concert-goers will also have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping meet a real need in the area.

“When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, financial challenges are often a very real part of the package,” said Sue Lindenbusch, the cancer institute’s vice president. “Donations provided through this concert empower the cancer institute to enhance its assistance to patients, giving them strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

“We’re grateful to Marla for her commitment to improve our patients’ quality of life and encourage the residents of our region to join us for this spectacular event. It will have a powerful impact on our friends and neighbors who are going through a life-altering experience.”

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. They can be purchased in advance by calling the Paramount at (423) 274-8920 or visiting www.etix.com.

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