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Christian music icon Steven Curtis Chapman on seeking inspiration from fellow icon Bruce Springsteen on new album

After 35 years, 59 Gospel Music Assn. Dove Awards, five Grammys, and 10 RIAA-certified gold or platinum albums, Steven Curtis Chapman wasn’t sure he’d ever make another album. But a surprising lesson from The Boss fueled StillChapman’s first new album of contemporary Christian music in nearly a decade, will be released tomorrow (October 14) via Sony Music/Provident Entertainment.

“The last two records of Bruce Springsteen inspired me”, says Chapman Billboard of 2019 western stars and 2020s Letter to you. “Here’s a guy who’s in his 60s, and I heard him say, ‘I’ve had this incredible blessing of having years and years of conversations with people.'”

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Springsteen’s music and perspective resonated with Chapman who decided he had even more to say. “I love having these conversations and that’s what these songs are about. These are my conversations with people and I want to keep doing that,” says Chapman, who this year became the first music songwriter Christian to receive the prestigious BMI Icon Award, joining a distinguished list that also includes Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson and Sting.

Recognized as the most awarded artist in Christian music, the native of Paducah, Kentucky has built a successful career, with hit singles such as “The Great Adventure”, “More to This Life”, “Dive “, “For the Sake”. of the call” and “Heaven in the real world”. He freed The glorious unfolding in 2013 and worship and believe in 2016 on Provident, and published independently Deeper Roots: Where Bluegrass Grows in 2019. “The worship record was a side thing, different from what I usually do,” he says, “and the bluegrass record was a passion project, something I had always wanted to do – but still a time it was different.”

When it was time to return to his usual musical path, changes in the business and the way music is consumed made him hesitate: “It was a long process even to decide, ‘Do I another record?’ because making records now is so different and the business is so different.

Chapman acknowledges that attention spans today are short and geared towards airing individual songs, whereas he’s always enjoyed telling long stories. But these days, he laments, “people don’t even read the whole book. I am a storyteller. I want to take you on a trip. I am an explorer and I want to share what I have learned: this is where my heart was broken, this is where my heart was filled with hope, this is where I felt joy… but when there’s a world around you saying, “Just give me one song real quick because I’ve got a billion other songs barking at my attention”, creatively, it’s It was a tough decision to make.”

Still, Chapman chose to dive back in. Lyrically, he took the same approach he always has as a writer – to be unerringly vulnerable and just give his heart – but sonically, Still is fresh and innovative. He worked with what he calls his “dream team”, consisting of his longtime collaborator Brent Milligan, as well as Ben Shive, Brian Fowler and Micah Kuiper. He also enlisted his sons Will Franklin and Caleb, members of the Colony House band. “When I started thinking about who could help me grow and help me communicate these songs in the most relevant way while maintaining their integrity, I thought of Colony House, because they are so cool. Then I thought, ‘Wait a minute! I’ve fed these guys a lot of meals for many years. Maybe I’ll ask a favor,” he laughs.

Chapman appreciates his young producers helping him frame this collection of songs in the best possible light, because they’re all so personal – including dealing with life’s challenges as significant as the death of a close friend, his beau- brother losing his battle after being diagnosed with five brain tumors, and of course, the pandemic. “I couldn’t have written these songs five years ago. I wouldn’t have had that prospect,” says Chapman, who turns 60 next month. “The way I deal with life is I have to write a song about it. I needed to do this for my own heart and for my friends and family.

Chapman’s contract with Provident was up and he was a free agent, so he started talking to other labels after he finished the record, but in the end he decided to re-sign with Provident, the division of Christian Music from Sony, due to their enthusiasm for the new Songs. The label is currently working “Don’t Lose Heart” on Christian radio. “I’m talking about feeling like you’ve lost the fight and being afraid to call out Your name. I was here. Do not be ashamed. People said to me, ‘When you sing those words, knowing your background, knowing your story, it’s a whole different thing. There is power in these words from you,” says Chapman, who has experienced her share of tragedy – including the death of her five-year-old daughter Maria in 2008.

Although he hopes the song will do well on radio, as a 35-year veteran of the craft, Chapman is realistic. “I was told, ‘Radio loves you, but you’re fighting a battle against your own story — because there are recurring songs and quite a few No. 1s,'” says Chapman, who had 49 n ° 1.

One of the songs on the album that Chapman says makes him nervous is “Living Color,” a poignant tribute to his seventh-grade best friend, Carlton Bell. He started the song 20 years ago and eventually finished it, including keeping a line in the song where he expresses concern about writing about race. In the end, it was about honoring his friend. “I was thinking about my mate Carlton… I gathered a bunch of friends – black and white, different colors – around the fire pit one night and said, ‘How can I best respond with the plate? -shape I have?’ I don’t want to feel like I have to jump into a conversation, I just need to listen.

As his memories of Bell continued to creep in, Chapman searched for his friend, who had moved away from Kentucky years ago and, sadly, he found Bell’s obituary. “I have so many fond memories of Carlton,” he said. “We were different skin colors, but that didn’t matter…I decided to write the song and I came to that last verse, and I was just super honest and I said that I was even scared to write the song, because I didn’t want to say it badly. But I decided to write it, because if I didn’t, then this beautiful friendship story would go untold. It’s a story I think the world needs to hear.

Chapman will be sharing songs from his new collection next spring on the Still tour. “I’m so excited to get back on the road,” he said. “We’ll be in theaters, sort of intimate, and we’ll take people on a journey. We are going to create an interactive evening. I feel like it’s a celebration of 35 years for people who know my music, but I also want someone to walk into this and know just one song – or maybe none – has the impression of having spent an incredible night which has been rich for her to live with.”

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