Drinking... partying... throwing his dreams away for a girl – Curtis Grimes' life as a Country music star sounded like something straight out of a Country music song.
In his award-winning career, Curtis has shared the stage with the likes of Kenny Chesney and LeAnn Rimes. But when he tried to go straight, his label dropped him like a hot potato. Still, Curtis says losing his career was when it truly started.
From the time he accepted Christ at eight years old, making it big—for God—was Curtis' game plan; just not as a musical artist.
"Growing up, I remember telling my dad, 'Hey, when I'm big, I want to play major league baseball and I want to use that platform to tell people about Jesus'," he recalls.
And for much of his young life, Curtis pursued baseball with a passion. By his freshman year of high school, he was starting pitcher on the varsity team. That's also when he started drifting from his faith.
Now hanging out with his teammates, Curtis began indulging in drinking and sex. "At that point, it was just to fit in, to be cool, to hang out with the boys. I wanted them to respect me, feel like I was as, as cool as them at the time. And then fast-forward, four or five years, and now like I couldn't tell you the last time I went to church."
Still, as an all-state pitcher his senior year, Curtis took his high school to the state championship and earned a scholarship to Centenary College. His plans for major league baseball would soon be derailed. Curtis fell in love – or so he thought.
"I got engaged and I quit baseball and then we broke up. When I wanted to go back and try to do it again, I wasn't eligible. So here I was left holding the bag. Just to quit for a girl and then to throw it all away. I mean, you talk about regret."
Now partying even more, it was at that point that music entered his life. He picked up his roommate's guitar and discovered a talent for music.
Just like baseball, Curtis went all-in, pouring himself into writing, performing with his band, and partying. "The drinking, partying, playing the guitar, trying to play and sing and write these Texas country songs was what I replaced everything in my life that I had known up until then with."
Then, a year later, in 2008, Curtis won a radio contest to open for Kenny Chesney. That momentum led to an opportunity with "The Voice" in 2011, making it to the quarter-finals. "I got a national booking agent and management and started pushing radio singles with a promoter. The natural thing to do was to chase this as long as it lasted."
Curtis spent the next few years writing, touring, and living the life, all the while professing to be a Christian. "Just drinking and partying, the hanging out and hooking up with girls on the road. I knew how I was living was wrong. So, I had that internal battle going on as well. I was just so ashamed of what I'd done that I didn't want to face reality. I didn't want to fess up and instead of facing it, I just ran from it."
Eventually, Curtis realized he wasn't only hurting himself; he had strayed far from his childhood plans to use the stage to serve God.
"I was really a horrible representation of a Christian in pretty much every aspect: my lifestyle, the songs I was putting out, the lyrical content, and I had changed so much from where I was. Here I was with the platform, with the opportunity to influence and reach people, and up until this point, I hadn't done that at all. I had actually done the complete opposite," he says.
Then, in the fall of 2015, he heard Andre Crouch's song, "Through it All."
"That's what spurred the thought of through all this, through all of how I was living, God never gave up on me. He still loves me, and he just wants me to make things right and live my life walking with Jesus. It was the breaking point. That was the moment to where I said, 'You know what? I messed up and I'm genuinely sorry about it. And I don't want to keep doing that.' I remember laying on the floor praying and just asking God to forgive me of how I'd been living the last several years. Just getting it all out there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulder and a huge burden removed."
Afterward, Curtis wrestled with whether to leave the music scene. "And then God put on my heart, 'No. I put you in this environment and in this place for a reason. I've given you an opportunity to go in here and witness to people that have seen you over the last five years and will see this change in you.'"
So, Curtis decided to tell his managers and record label there was a new plan. "I said, 'Hey guys, I've made a lot of changes in my life lately. Stopped drinking, sobered up, put God first, and I want my music to reflect that.' I didn't want to continue doing drinking, partying music, I wanted to do positive, faith-based, more traditional sounding country music."
Within three months, they all dropped him.
"On the surface, it looked like I had lost everything, but in reality, the road had been cleared for me to really go in and do it exactly how I want to with the songs I wanted to do it. And there wasn't anything in my way."
Curtis went on to record over a dozen number one hit singles and was voted top country Christian artist at the Texas Country Music Awards. He also married and began raising a family. Curtis founded 10 Finger Ministry in his grandfather's honor, where he uses proceeds from his faith-based album to buy Bibles and distribute them free of charge.
He's committed to using the gifts, and the stage God gave him to point people to Jesus Christ.
"The message that I want everyone to take home every night is, 'Hey, Jesus loves you, no matter where you are or what you've been through, Jesus loves you.' I'm going, "Hey, I get it. I was there. I know what it's like and I know what Jesus did for me. And I know what Jesus is doing through me. And that's the good news I have for you."