It’s been a tough five years for Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. He is the most-awarded artist in Christian music, with 57 Dove Awards, five Grammys, 47 No. 1 singles and nearly 11 million albums sold, but it all skidded to a halt in 2008 with the death of his youngest daughter. One of three girls adopted from China, Maria Sue was just 5 years old when she darted in front of a car driven by Chapman’s teenage son, Will Franklin, in the family driveway. When Chapman appeared in a Modesto concert in 2011, he and his two sons, who played in their dad’s band and were launching their own group, were still coping with grief.
The Bible says, “ To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. ... a time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Chapman said he feels as though his time of weeping and mourning is changing into a rebirth of joy.
Earlier this year, Chapman released an album that focused on his Kentucky musical roots. Unlike his previous works, “Deep Roots” featured bluegrass instruments and music, and was sold through the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. But it’s been seven years since Chapman recorded a full-length album with his original Christian songs. That will change on Oct. 1 when his 18th album, “The Glorious Unfolding,” is released. The music reflects lessons from his recent journey, but with a return to melodies and lyrics marked with exuberance and joy.
“It just feels like a new season, a new chapter,” Chapman said in a recent phone interview. “We’ve obviously been through so much, crawling on our hands and knees through some dark places. We’re still walking with a limp, but it’s a feeling like you’re beginning to have your pace increasing, more joy, more laughter.”
Seven days after the album’s release, Chapman will return to the Gallo Center with The Glorious Unfolding Tour. He’ll bring two guest artists with him – singer-songwriter Laura Story (“Indescribable,” “Blessings”) and Jason Gray (“Nothing Is Wasted,” “Remind Me Who I Am”).
The Bee caught up with Chapman – married to Mary Beth with children Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, Shaohannah and Stevey Joy — when he was in Florida to perform at Walt Disney World’s annual Christian concert called Night of Joy. The 50-year-old talked frankly about how his family and his music have changed in the past couple of years:
I played a lot of piano and wrote about half of the songs on the piano this time, which is unusual for me. Lyrically, I wouldn’t say it’s any different than what I’ve written for the past five years. I don’t think I could be any more honest than I’ve been. It’s hopeful. I think it brings perspective now. I have a confidence in these words that I’m saying now.