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Christian Music's Steven Curtis Chapman Tells His Story

Steven Curtis Chapman is the most awarded artist in Christian music, with 58 Dove awards, 5 Grammys, and 48 #1 singles. CBN reporter Scott Ross caught up with Steven and his wife Mary Beth at his recording studio in Nashville.

Scott: You started out more as a songwriter.

Steven: Yeah.

Scott: You were primarily a songwriter before you become a singer of the song, or what?

Steven: Well, for me it was because my brother Herbie was the singer.  And so he had the voice, and my voice, first off was a guitar.  So I spent a lot of time with the guitar. My dad wrote songs, and his buddies would get together, shut the kitchen door and I'd hear them. I'd put my ear up to the door and they'd be recording these songs. I knew that was something really cool but I never thought of myself being able to do that until I saw a peer, somebody kinda my age who'd written a song, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could do that.’ When I would play songs that I wrote, I would notice just a different reaction from my friends.  They would lean in a little bit more and listen to what I was singing as opposed to if I was singing, you know, whatever…

Mary Beth: Puppy Love.

Steven: …a James Taylor song or yeah, Puppy Love, a Donnie Osmond song. So I think that’s where I found, I really began to find my voice.  

After 30 years as a singer and songwriter, Steven has taken some time off to write his memoir, Between Heaven and the Real World - My Story.

Steven: The stories that have had the deepest impact on me and one of the reasons I was excited to finally get to write my story, it's when I can read the story of others who are following Christ, who are committed, but just are still on the journey.  They haven't arrived, and can be honest about that process.

In his book, Steven takes us from smalltown Paducah, KY, all the way to Carnegie Hall. He’s candid about raising a family, adopting three girls from China, and his 32-year marriage to Mary Beth.

Mary Beth: It took all of, I think, the drive home from the wedding, like two days after our wedding, where I was crying all the way home and you're like, this isn't…

Steven: Uh-oh!

Mary Beth: …this isn't going to be – yeah, we basically –

Steven: It's going to be harder than we thought.

Mary Beth: We’re like, ‘This is going to be a long life.’

Steven: Yeah, this is going.

Mary Beth: This is going to be a long life. But yeah, just to live, making a decision to live as authentically, when we're going to be interviewed, when we are going to write, that it is going to be an honest approach at life. Because we all have that stuff.  We all, we are not all immune.

Steven and Mary Beth lost their youngest child, Maria, in a tragic accident at their home. Maria was running to meet her older brother, Will, as he was pulling into the driveway, and she was struck by his SUV.  

Scott: How many years ago was this now?

Mary Beth: Almost nine.

Steven: It’s coming upon nine.

Scott: Is the pain of that still there?

Mary Beth: Yes.

Scott: You talk about it in depth in the book and you do talk about it publicly all the time.

Steven: I share the story from my perspective of just that, you know, scene of us huddled, arms around each other, just looking at each other saying, ‘We know this is going to be hard. We have no idea how hard or where this is going to go, but we have got to make this to get through this together as a family. We're only going to make it together holding to each other and holding on to the promises of God.’

Scott: Right.

Steven: It’s almost is like God, in our case, gave us a shot of anesthesia, you know, to your body and to your heart in a way, that you can survive.  That you're –there's enough of a numbness, you're very much alive and very aware of eternity, I mean, Heaven and the real world there. I talk a lot about how Heaven's never been more clear to me.  I've never been more sure that we are made for eternity. And I talk about speaking that to the nurses and doctors standing right around there after Maria had gone to be with Jesus.  

Scott: Where is it all now? Where is music? Where are you going? Do you know?

Steven: I start the book in Paducah, but I get quickly to Carnegie Hall, you know, in New York.
People came to me after I played at Carnegie Hall and said, ‘This had to be a dream come true.’
And I said, really, honestly, my answer was, ‘No, I can't say honestly it's a dream come true, because a kid from Paducah doesn't ever think to dream quite this big.’ So this journey has been beyond  anything we could have asked or imagined.  We want to continue, honestly, to be just faithful with the story God’s entrusted to us. Music, I’m sure, will be a part of that.

Music has been his career, but Steven is a man grounded in the truth of God’s Word – a common thread that’s woven throughout his songs.

Steven: ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ - And that's a promise that we have had to hold onto because so many moments, in our story, and all of us have a story, life is anything but tasting good at that moment or looking – what we see does not look good. I mean, can we really believe? That we were still going go to get to see the goodness of the Lord, that we were going to have grandchildren and we were going to stand at the crib of our first grandbaby with tears in our eyes, and with our arms around each other and say, ‘We made it to this point. We're getting to celebrate this moment together. This new beginning.’ The new life that God has given us and the beauty that has and is, is coming from the ashes, even as we're hoping and longing for what's yet to be realized when God finally wipes every tear from our eyes.

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