100 Huntley Street reporter Magdalene John sat down with Grammy Award Winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman to talk about his faith journey, a new tour and album, and healing in the spotlight after the tragic death of his adopted daughter six years ago.
Check out the world premier of Steven Curtis Chapman's "Glorious Unfolding" music video:
5 Grammys, 58 Dove Awards, Countless No. 1 hits, 11 Million Albums Sold - Who are we talking about? Steven Curtis Chapman.
What are we to expect on this tour "The Glorious Unfolding"?
It's been a very important album… collection of music… and is sort of the most recent I guess in a way sort of snapshots of my life especially these last couple years and my faith journey. It really centered on this theme and kind of this idea of God really knowing the plans that he has for us, and committed to finishing what he started, working everything for good - all these great verses that we quote and know and hold on to - living through more and more of life and the journey of life… It was 6 years ago this month that we lost our youngest daughter Maria in a tragic accident and a devastating chapter in our story - really redefining in our lives through that. There has been much music that has come out of that - some that's been laments and Psalms and I did an album called "Beauty Will Rise" then a recording called "Recreation". Going back and restating those things that I had said and declared and proclaimed in music in the last 26 years now, since my first album came out and sort of restating those in light of this new understanding of how desperate I am for these truths, how much I need these and how I'm anchored to them even when life takes you in places you can't ever have imagined. In this recent season for my family and I to be begin to be able to say, still with a broken heart and things that won't ever heal until Heaven in terms of the loss and the grief and sadness but seeing God do some amazing things and bring us into new chapters of this story that is unfolding. That is the thought of "This Glorious Unfolding" that God really is, as scripture says, "the author and finisher of our faith". He is writing this story and He knows where it's going and he is telling an amazing, glorious, epic story with each of our lives - with his grand story and our parts in that. But it does involve for all of us very dark and difficult chapters - but as we journey through those - and we have through those - we have had 3 marriages that we've celebrated in the last 6 years, two grand-babies, new life, new beginnings, new things to celebrate - it's felt very important for me, my little part in the Body (of Christ) the hangnail on the left pinky finger, or whatever part that is of the Body (of Christ) I am - to be able to say from this unique position, as my family and I have been through what we have - that we can say this with confidence and certainty - doesn't mean we are all fixed, through and over that hard thing, and we won't be and to embrace that to know that God's strength and grace is enough and has carried us, and is carrying us through, and these are revelations that we can only have now that God really is unfolding this amazing story.
The Glorious Unfolding become almost a journal. You are communicating with God and you are allowing people to peak into you and your family's journey through healing. What is that like?
It's wonderfully cathartic in ways. Its been a part of our healing. I try to imagine what the journey would have looked like had I not had this outlet and this relationship really with brothers and sisters in the faith to be able to talk about and share my journey with them. Sometimes feeling like the "Why" questions that you can't help but wrestle with, and you know you aren't going to get the answers to that - God's ways that are higher than ours but when you can see something like writing songs and sharing those stories and chapters in the journey and watch that connect with other people's live and hear the response and know that people will say ‘even as specific as "I lost a child" and music became, I became numb to it I couldn't even listen to so much Christian music that before it had really ministered to me" I remember one specific story but it's really indicative of many we have heard. Someone that would say "even hearing the songs that people would sing that I would think they don't know, they don't understand my pain" it's one thing to say these things, but she said when she was able to listen and know your story and hear the things you were saying out of that, it was the doorway for me to be able to get back to faith" we hear these stories and many others - that was one of the most dramatic. I think too for my family and I to see purpose in this. The theology of "this happens so that this can happen" puts something very evil, dark and awful in terms of cause and effect - it's not that as much as these things that god can bring out of, beauty out of the ashes.
We felt like, and have felt like in these last 6 years, but at times almost the most prayed for family in the world. People all over the world would say "We are praying for you in China, we are praying for you in Africa, we are praying for you in Australia, in Canada, in the US" all over and to go "I don't know how we would have survived without every single one of those prayers. But sometimes you almost feel like so many prayers are being prayed for us, so many people are thinking of us, and I want to share with them where we are.
I think too what's been important is that this isn't a recording or a tour that is built around and centers on this evil, dark chapter of our family. That is one part of our story, and a very redefining part, but there are songs for Mary Beth - and a song that I can only write 30 years into marriage. A song for my daughter Zoe who has her own story of just life and struggling and she's 14, am I beautiful enough, and to be able to address that and talk about the regular stuff of life again - I think that's even hopeful for people to say…. In context of how different that is now with a daughter living in heaven, and now a grandmother going to heaven and the little messages I whispered to her to take to Maria is very real and a very hopeful part of our journey now. So to be able to talk about those things in the context of this music and a tour is all a part of what God's allowed me to be able to do at this point in my journey.
Is there a different sound to your music this time around?
By design in some ways because it's a new season. God is making all things new. It's a challenge, it's always a bit of a challenge for me - that's what keeps my creative heart beating is to say ‘I want to make music that feels relevant, fresh to what's going on. I'm still a student of music. I listen to what's going on, what people are being moved by, what's popular. There is a reason why it's popular - it's connecting with people - it's not that it's just the flavor of the month or the day but there is a reason people are gravitating to that. It's speaking a musical, creative language, an artistic language that people relate to and it's smart for me to pay attention to that.
What are some of your musical influences now?
It's having my sons, who were with me on my tour the last time around - and I'm missing them terribly on this tour - and they are too they keep texting me "Dad how's it going in Canada, man we wish we were with you, we miss it" it brings back a lot of memories. But they are doing their own music and just blowing up. They just actually yesterday sent me a picture of them sitting down at the desk signing the contract - they've signed a record deal of their own - they had been releasing their music independently for a while now but they've signed a recording agreement with a label in the states, mainstream, so their music is going to have a chance to go out into the world in some really exciting ways. They are amazing musicians and because they are much more, they are listening to all the music that is going on in the world they are in, all the time they are tipping me off "dad check this out, I think you'd like this, I think you'd like this record, listen to that" - if you looked at my playlist, it makes no sense. It's a movie score, it's Jazz, its Bluegrass, its rock N Roll.
I am looking forward to being home for a season. I've been home for a bit - we did the spring tour and now we are here - going to spend the summer a lot just with my family. My wife and I celebrate my 30th anniversary in the Fall and my wife has a very big birthday coming up. We are coming up to a couple big milestones within a month of each other so the Fall, we have put on our calendar as just sort of blocking out most of the Fall to spend a lot of time doing fun things together, being together and enjoying it. I have a Christmas tour that I'm going to do with Brandon Heath and then I'm working on a project that is sort of a corporate worship oriented project working with a lot of different worship leaders which is really exciting and a little scary for me. It's a similar but different world. I'm more of a singer songwriter, more of a writer, so this will stretch me, maybe in some new ways, I'm very excited I've been invited into a big thing that's going on that has some book, and different elements with the church and there's going to be a music element and I'm sort of steering that, at the helm of it. I'm not going to be retiring to my camper just yet, but trying to take more time for those moments too at this point in my life. Enjoy my kids and grand-daughters and all of that.
Check out our previous interview with Steven Curtis Chapman - the first Canadian television interview since the loss of their daughter Maria and how their faith was playing a role in the healing process so close to the tragedy.