Over the last several years singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman has traveled a number of new pathways.
“There are several newer chapters in our lives and I think this new music was a chance to share part of our journey,” said Chapman, 51, from his home office in Franklin, Tenn.
Chapman was speaking of “The Glorious Unfolding,” his latest collection of songs and his first full-length conventional studio project in seven years. Most of the songs tell of the “unfolding” of the latest segments on his life voyage.
It’s been nearly six years since Chapman and his wife MaryBeth lost the second of their three adopted children – Maria Sue – in a tragic accident. (The story is detailed in MaryBeth’s book Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, (c. 2010). But in the time since, newer joys have entered the family’s lives.
“We’ve found joy coming back into our hearts and oxygen back in our lungs,” he said.
“In these last five years our oldest three children have been married, we are now grandparents – all of these things have begun new chapters for us.”
A CHAPTER AT A TIME
The first song from the CD to reach Christian radio – the fun and bouncy “Love Take Me Over” – topped the charts soon after its release last year and was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award.
It fits nicely into the overarching theme of the album, which is best expressed in the title song “Glorious Unfolding.”
“It says that this life might not seem like it’s turning out the way you thought it would, but it’s only one chapter. The rest of the story is still unfolding.”
Chapman observed that it’s rather rare these days for people sit down and listen to entire albums. The digital era has favored individual songs.
“To tell a story, as in a book, you need more than one chapter to take people on a journey,” he offered. “But I feel like that’s what this CD has allowed me to do.”
Also in the collection: “Together,” a song he wrote for his wife (the couple celebrates their 30th wedding anniversary this fall); “One and Only You” is for their now 14-year-old daughter Shaoey, expressing his admiration of her grace in turning into a young lady; and “Sound of Your Voice,” for which Chapman got the whole family together to sing background vocals.
More than a decade ago the Chapmans, already with three biological children, decided to adopt a girl from China. They brought home Shaohannah “Shoey” Hope in 2001 with help from the Grand Rapids-based agency Bethany Christian Services.
The family soon became strong adoption advocates, beginning the Show Hope Foundation (www.ShowHope.org) to raise awareness and to give financial grants to families facing the economic challenges of the adoption process. So far more than 4,000 families have received these grants, leading to adoptions from 50 different countries, including the U.S.
“We want to come alongside and be a part of that to help build a bridge and speak for the children,” said the artist.
Along the way the Chapmans adopted two more girls from China – Maria Sue and Stevie Joy. (Stevie is now 11).
Show Hope celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
In January Shaoey and Stevie Joy got a thrill when they were able to accompany their father at the “red carpet” segment of the Grammy Award ceremonies in Los Angeles.
“Over the years I’ve gotten to take all of my kids, including my oldest, Emily, when she was about 13,” recalled Chapman, who has won five Grammys and been nominated for several others.
“Shaoey said that she (and Stevie Joy) wanted their own Grammy story to tell, and we don’t know how many more times this (a nomination) is gonna happen,” he noted.
The Chapman sons Caleb and Will (now both married) used to play in their father’s band. Now they have a band of their own – Colony House – and are in the process of releasing their first full-length album. Will’s wife, Jillian Edwards, is an accomplished singer with her own new CD.
“We’ve got musicians everywhere,” Chapman noted.
THE UNFOLDING PROCESS
After selling more than 10 million albums over his 27-year recording career, the Kentucky native could afford to rest a bit with his incredible 58 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards (more than any other single artist) and nearly 50 No. 1 Christian radio hits. Songs like “The Great Adventure,” “Live Out Loud” and “Do Everything” still ring in listeners’ ears.
But there is yet more to unfold.
“If you take a book off a shelf and just read one chapter, you can’t say you know what that book is all about,” said the artist.
“You’d have missed the whole arc of the story and the steps of love and faith that God has a place for your and will finish what He’s begun.”
Note: Chapman explains the story behind the new song, "Michael and Maria," from “The Glorious Unfolding” http://youtu.be/om3UA-3SjEY
If You Go:
Who: Steven Curtis Chapman: “The Glorious Unfolding” tour with special guests The Afters and Josh Wilson
When: 7 p.m. Mar 13 (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: Sunshine Community Church, 3300 E Beltline NE
Tickets: $25 and $30; artists circle $40; available at www.itickets.com or 800-965-9324