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Woodlands Online sits down with Steven Curtis Chapman about his upcoming May 3 concert at Dosey Doe The Big Barn
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Steven Curtis Chapman is the most acclaimed artist in Christian music history, winning 59 GMA Dove Awards, five GRAMMY Awards, an American Music Award, and selling more than eleven million albums with ten RIAA-Certified Gold or Platinum albums. He just celebrated his 50th career #1 song, “Don’t Lose Heart” and will be performing at Dosey Doe The Big Barn on May 3. We sat down with Steven to ask about his faith, career, and upcoming Dosey Doe show.
Faith has really been what has inspired and compelled me to create art and write the kind of songs that are right.
Link to reserve your tickets to the May 3 Steven Curtis Chapman Concert at Dosey Doe The Big Barn
Q: Steven, you are one of the most acclaimed artists in Christian music history. The core of your music focuses on your relationship with Jesus Christ, overcoming adversity, and the joy in life as you trust and rely on God. Can you tell us about when you first established that relationship with Jesus Christ and also how you first got started in Christian music?
“Yes, my dad played music and his dream as a boy was to grow up and play at the Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He was chasing that dream when I was really young. When I was about six years old, the first song I learned on the guitar was “Folsom Prison Blues.” I started with country music and bluegrass music growing up in Kentucky.
My mom would take my brother and me to church, but my dad would usually not go because he was playing music on the weekends. We grew up in Kentucky in the Bible Belt, kind of the buckle of the Bible Belt, as they would say. Church was something you did on Sunday, but it wasn't a real integral part of our lives.
There was a revival that came through our church for about a week, every night of that week. My dad owned a little music store at the time called Chapman Music (he still actually owns it and still teaches guitar lessons there). A side note now is that at 83 years old, he's been doing that for his whole life, certainly my whole life. He came to church with my mom, me, and my brother during that revival. I was only six or seven years old, but by the end of that week, I saw something really start to change in my family and my home, like praying together as a family.
My dad had grown up without a father (an alcoholic father) who left his family when my dad was a baby. He died when my dad was a young boy. That was kind of a black mark on his life, with a lot of shame related to that.
There would be fights in my home and dad would just leave. There was a lot of stress and conflicts, but after this change started to happen in my family, I would come to understand that it was really because my dad and mom began to have a relationship with God through Jesus. It wasn't just religion and going to church, it was real, and it transformed my family.
I could see that happening firsthand and it began to affect my wife and us as a family.
When I was eight years old, just being in church one Sunday morning, I still remember very clearly what the pastor said. The preacher was quoting from Revelations and he ended his sermon with Jesus saying, I stand at the door and knock and if anyone will open the door, I will come in and have (the word he used was I’ll come in and sup with him), which kind of threw me off because that was the old King James Version. But basically, he explained that it meant, I’ll come in and have a meal with you. I'll come and have a relationship with you. I'll be an extra part of your life, every moment of your life, not just going to church on Sunday. That was really when my relationship began. That is why I always use the word, relationship because I really feel like the relationship with Christ is important. That's what began to affect the music we played.
I grew up playing all kinds of music. I played at the Grand Ole Opry for the first time when I was 19 years old and got to work at a place in Nashville called Opryland, which was an amusement park built around the Grand Ole Opry. I worked with a lot of other artists there that would go on to also have careers in country music. I've written songs with various artists. One of my first songs was recorded by Glen Campbell, which was a huge thing for me as a kid. I was a massive Campbell fan. I've always loved that music, and yet, you know, what I've written primarily has been music centered around my faith. Faith has really been what has inspired and compelled me to create art and write the kind of songs that are right.”
Q: You have a new Album out called “Still.” It is your first full-length studio release in 9 years. Could you tell us more about this new album?
“Yes, just so that you know, at this point 36 years ago, my first album was released in 1987. I just had a head and heart full of songs and ideas and I just started writing. I had no idea where it was going to go. I didn’t know if I was not going to be able to make a second or third record.
It was a very humble beginning and thankfully radio has played my music, and the album sold back when you sold albums and concert tickets began to sell. I've been incredibly blessed for a hillbilly from Paducah, Kentucky, to get to make records for 35 years.
You know, honestly, if you've had success, artists say, “Do people want to just hear me play the hits, or are they interested in new music from a guy that's been doing this for as long as I have?“ And in our heads, we wrestle with a lot of that.
I have some new songs that are really coming out of my heart, especially with the pandemic and just all that we've been through in our world in the last few years. So much has changed. More things have changed in the last five years in our world than in my whole lifetime. That stirs a lot in my heart and the way I process all of that is to write music and songs about it. So that's kind of where the music came from.
I started writing these songs. I didn't have a record contract. I didn't have record labels saying, “hey, it's time for you to release your next record,” and all of that. I already fulfilled all of those agreements and contracts. So, it truly was just my heartbeat, music, new songs, new ideas, and new things that I felt like I really wanted to say.
But then I had to get over myself and go to people who really want to hear your care, and then I'm just going to record this record because I still have things I want to say. I still want to have conversations with people. That's really what music is. I get to have these conversations with people through the songs and I get to tell them what's in my head, in my heart, and then get to hear their response. So often, they are like, “Man, thank you for that. I needed to hear that song. It really means this to me. So I decided I really am still passionate about that. I still believe even after so many things that have happened in my own life personally, hard things, tragic things, wonderful things, that we're still just kind of a thread running through all these songs and I still want to sing this. I still believe this. I still want to communicate these things. And so thankfully record label, Sony label, Providence, said, hey, we still want to make music with you and we still want to promote it. And we still want to put your songs on radio. And lo and behold, you know, I had my 50th number-one song a couple of weeks ago on radio. It’s crazy that I'm still getting to do this. That's really where this music came from, this record, and even the tour that I've been doing called Still. It's just a kind of a thread that's been running through a lot of my creativity this last season of life.”
Q: Your latest hit “Don’t Lose Heart,” became your 50th career #1 song. How does it feel to have reached that career mark?
“Almost a year ago, I received an award from BMI. It's a performing rights organization that collects when your songs are played on the radio, TV, and all of that. They are an organization that monitors and collects them and helps songwriters get paid and I was awarded an amazing honor from them called the BMI Icon Award.
And I was like, how do you say thank you? How do you respond to that? It's such an amazing thing. You are the culmination of so many people that have cheered you on, played your music, come to your concerts, written songs with you, produced records with you, and toured with you. Radio guys who have played your songs, record label people who work so hard to get their music out, PR people, and managers. I mean, the list goes on and on.
Friends, family, people that prayed for you, and all of that stuff. You feel very humbled by it.
There's a great saying that I ended up writing a song about that I've heard from different people saying if you ever see a turtle on a fence post, you know one thing, he didn't get there by himself. We all sometimes feel like we are a turtle on a fence post. I mean, I clearly did not get up here by myself. There's no way I could have done that.
Somebody you know put me here. And now I get this incredible view and that's what I feel like. So I wrote this song called, “I’m just a turtle on a fence post.” A radio team who just would not take no for an answer it's like man we're gonna get Steven his 50th number one because he deserves that. We're going to make this happen. We love this song. The world needs this song. Just so many people, radio friends, guys from radio stations that actually even said we're gonna call every one of our friends in radio and say, We got to make this happen, let's do this. It was all these people that just kind of rallied around me and this time in my life and this record, so I really am just blown away by that. I mean when I say that, I really mean it. I'm humbled by it and just reminded how blessed I am to have so many people that have cheered me on and have played my music and listened to my music and yeah, just very humbled by it.”
Q: You will be performing at Dosey Doe The Big Barn on Wednesday, May 3. What can guests expect at your concert regarding songs? Will you be performing mostly newer songs or a variety of songs spanning your career? You have so many songs to choose from, it must be tough trying to narrow the list to just a few songs for a concert. I’m sure everyone has a favorite song that they want you to play at your concerts.
Yes, first of all, I was super excited when I found out I was getting to play Dosey Doe because I’d heard about it. It’s kind of legendary, sort of one of those venues that you just hear people talking about and say, man, I saw this article and know that it really has this kind of vibe of singer/songwriters. I know my buddy, Larry Gatlin has done a lot of shows there.
And these guys who are these legends of songwriting telling stories, which is all right up my alley. I love to do that. That's my favorite thing about what I get to do with music. I love to tell that story to the audience. To answer your question, with having a 30-plus year career now, for me, the question is how do I get in as many of those songs that people want to hear and still get some of the new songs because those are the newest things that are stirring in my heart. There's so much that's special about “I Will Be Here,” “Cinderella,” “The Great Adventure,” and “Dive.” The list goes on and on for me. I thought, if I don't play, “I Will Be Here” in a concert, people might start throwing things. There are quite a few people that have a song that was part of their wedding.
So my challenge is always, how can I get as many songs in the night as I possibly can? And that's what I'll be doing for sure. It'll include the greatest hits, the best, but will also include some new music and stories. I will be trying to squeeze in as much of that in the time we have and will be taking people on a little bit of a musical journey. Music is like a time machine. You can climb in a song and take yourself right back to someplace in your life. And that's what I love. It's part of what's so amazing to me about music and concerts, especially live concerts. And I'm looking forward to it there. As you'll see though, it's gonna be a very special night.
Link to reserve your tickets to the May 3 Steven Curtis Chapman Concert at Dosey Doe The Big Barn
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