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Chapman takes T.I.'s message to a higher level

click to enlarge The gospel according to Steven: Ten million Chapman fans can't be wrong.
  • The gospel according to Steven: Ten million Chapman fans can't be wrong.

If you didn't know better, you might think Steven Curtis Chapman was still grinding it out on the club circuit. A Southern gentleman's gentleman, the veteran gospel singer's laid-back "aw shucks" approach doesn't even hint at the ridiculous success he's enjoyed during his 20-plus-year career.

The cerebral singer-songwriter has won an unprecedented 54 Dove Awards, an American Music Award and five Grammys, which is a nearly incomprehensible collection of hardware. As an added bonus, he's also managed to shift more than 10 million units — including two platinum albums, 7 gold discs and more than 40 singles that have reached No. 1 on the Christian charts.

"I've been very fortunate," says Chapman with the warm, easy smile that comes naturally to him. "What can I say? I've enjoyed some success during my career. I just love what I do. I have fun going out there and connecting with my fans. That's what it's all about."

Chapman was born 46 years ago in Paducah, Ky., where his father still teaches guitar, and now lives in Franklin, Tenn. He's become (and is very likely to remain) a Christian country music phenomenon of the highest order. While he's not one to get preachy in interviews, his musical message and strong work ethic have resonated both within and beyond the inspirational music community, earning him the kind of superstar status that approaches the level of a Springsteen.

"It's just not about me going out there and playing songs," says Chapman. "I go out and I'm fortunate enough to touch as many lives as I possibly can. I can't begin to say how lucky I am. I can't see why I would stop doing what I'm doing."

Chapman is currently touring behind This Moment, his 16th studio release. The disc includes some of the catchiest and even edgiest work of his career. Chapman can throw caution to the wind and write a song like the infectious "You Are Being Loved," which definitely sounds a little rough around the edges by genre standards. Still, the song drives home a message that Chapman has always meant to convey through his music.

"We have to go out and live at our fullest," he says. "We need to be the best we can be."

Chapman takes a particularly proactive stance when it comes to living out his own family values: His sons Caleb and Will are both part of his touring band, playing guitar and drums, respectively.

"I live for my family," says Chapman, whose youngest daughter died last year, a tragedy that temporarily sidelined his career. "That's what I'm all about. I've never been one of those guys who has been all about the career. You need balance in life. I've always worked at that. Even though I would tour, I would always make sure to spend time at home. Because of that, I probably have been home with my kids more than most dads."

Back in 2003, Chapman and his wife Mary Beth started Shaohannah's Hope, which was named after the first of three daughters that the couple adopted from China. The organization's aim is to help Christian families who are also interested in going through the adoption process.

"We've been so fortunate that we need to give back," says Chapman. "It's all about making the world a better place."

scene@csindy.com

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