Nov. 18--It didn't take long for Mark Cartwright to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up.
At the age of 5 he learned how to play the piano. At 13, he began singing country music professionally.
Some of his teenage days would consist of helping his mother load up the family van after school for a nighttime performance that often stretched into the early morning hours, and then going back to school the next day.
Cartwright put in long hours back then and continues to put a lot of hours into his music today.
Now, Cartwright is receiving some vindication for his nearly 40 years of hard work by being inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
The 32nd Annual Georgia Country Music Awards is scheduled for Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.
"This is my first award. I wasn't expecting it, and it was a shock," he said. "I have been fortunate enough that God has blessed me over the years to do my music, and he's blessed me to go into the Hall of Fame."
Cartwright, who gave his life to God in 2009, thanks Him more than anything else for the resurgence in his career and for the Hall of Fame plaque he will proudly hang on the wall in his home.
The same year he got saved he moved to Donaldsville, La., which was the turning point of his career. While in Donaldsville, Cartwright quit smoking cigarettes, began singing more gospel music, was able to form his own recording studio and formed his own music label, MRA Records.
This combination of musical transitions took him down a path that ended with his first No. 1 record, "The Gospel Boogie." It stayed in the top position for a month on the Christian country music charts.
"He restored everything," said Cartwright, a Midway resident. "Moving to Louisiana was the best move I ever made, and when we came back (to Georgia) in 2010, I hit the ground running."
The 51-year-old has no plans to stop making music or to pursue other endeavors.
As of now, he's on a tour that will span the Southeastern region of the country, with a stop for a dinner concert at The Benton House at 890 Scranton Road, Brunswick, on Wednesday.
"I still got a lot of music left in me, and I want to play," said Cartwright. "I don't have any complaints. I just hope it continues."
-- Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Martin Rand III at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.
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