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Local mans Got Talent
Mark Cartwright

A music career spanning five decades will take another step forward when Mark Cartwright auditions for “America’s Got Talent” later this month.

Cartwright, 54, was selected by producers after submitting a sample of his skills. The auditions are being held Nov. 19 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was 5 and performing since I was 13, so there’s no way I’ll be nervous,” he laughed. “I’m really looking forward to meeting Simon (Cowell), because I appreciate music the way he does.”

The Midway resident often performs in Richmond Hill at nursing homes.

“He’s just great and our folks love him,” said Rich DeLong, executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care.

“I love old folks,” Cartwright laughed.

He said he owes a lot to his mother, Grace Wheeler, for his success in the entertainment business.

“I started playing clubs at 13 and I couldn’t get in unless she was with me,” he recalls. “Sometimes we wouldn’t get home until two in the morning, but she never complained.

Wheeler, at 85, is still going strong, working full-time at the Walgreens in Richmond Hill.

When it comes to music, Cartwright does it all, playing everything from jazz to classical. He’s also an accomplished songwriter and owns his own record label.

He says his biggest thrill so far was playing at the Grand Ole Opry in the early 1980s, and in 2001 he hit No. 36 on the country charts with “I’m Still Missin You.”

The 2013 inductee to the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame also hit No. 1 on the gospel charts in 2009 with “Jesus All I Need Is You.”

The timing of the AGT audition comes just a day after Cartwright and his wife Scarlett celebrate their 17thwedding anniversary.

“We booked a room right next door at the Westin,” he said. “There’s no telling who from the show I might bump into. It’ll be a great way to network.”

Aside from his music career, Cartwright also is a deputy with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re all pulling for me,” he said. “I’ve got so many friends all over the area and I just want to make them proud.”

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