Mark Lowry insists he is not a comedian. He's a singer who tells stories.
Semantics aside, he is funny, at least onstage.
"I'm not a comedian. I'M NOT," he says. "They say Satan labels you and God names you."
Lowry returns to Chattanooga for a show tonight, July 31, at the Tivoli Theatre with The Martins and Jason Crabb.
Lowry says the show is modeled very much after the many shows he performed over 20 years collectively with Bill Gaither and his traveling showcases. Not all of those years were consecutive, as Lowry left for a time to do other projects. Both partings were amicable.
¦ What: "Music & Madness with Mark Lowry, The Martins & Jason Crabb."
¦ When: 8 p.m. today, July 31.
¦ Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
¦ Admission: $56.50, $32.50 and $25.
¦ Phone: 423-642-8497.
¦ Website: www.ChattanoogaOnstage.com.
"Bill blesses you when arrive, and he blesses you when you leave," Lowry says.
"When I told him I'm leaving, he said, 'I could tell you were getting restless.' It invigorates him because he gets to reinvent himself. That's the other thing I learned from him is to welcome change. The key to life is to welcome it."
Lowry says he's learned a lot from Gaither about show business and about people.
"I'm the Bill Gaither of this program," Lowry says. "I know the first song and the last, but I have (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and we'll be chasing rabbits for the rest of it."
Lowry says Gaither was the master at presenting shows that felt like everyone, audience included, was simply gathered at his house and Gaither was pulling out records from his collection playing one favorite after another.
"He is still that kid in the barn, only now instead of the records, he has the actual artists. It's magic, and nobody is up there long enough to get bored."
Lowry is also an author and songwriter, having penned the beloved Christmas song "Mary Did You Know?" It's been recorded by almost everyone, including Reba McEntire, Cee Lo Green, Clay Aiken, Michael English, Kenny Rogers and the Gaither Vocal Band.
Lowry became a storyteller to entertain people at his church while the elderly guy in charge of the sound system cued up the next song.
"I had to do something while the little old man changed the soundtracks," he says. "Pretty soon the people were listening more to the stories."
They are still listening to his funny stories about going to the emergency room after a motorcycle accident.
"If I were Pentecostal and not Baptist I would go to hell for the things I said," he says during one of his stories.
"All I ever wanted to do was communicate. And to let people know that God is nice and we should be, too. If you put my whole life in a nutshell, that's it."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.