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Of the many singer-songwriters to emerge from Christian music in the '80s and '90s, probably no one has had greater intuitive command of the various idioms of rock 'n' roll than Steven Curtis Chapman.
What do you do when you've had 29 number one singles, won every major award and sold more than four million albums? Steven Curtis Chapman, a nine-time Gospel Music Association Songwriter of the Year, decided to take a year off to spend time with his family and contemplate his next move. 1998 turned out to be a roller coaster year of joy and pain.
Steven Curtis Chapman was thrust back into the spotlight during his sabbatical by the tragic shooting at his alma mater, Heath High School, in Paducah, Kentucky. He made several trips to his hometown to offer emotional support and did a benefit for the victims' families. Tragedy struck again when a close family friend lost a daughter in a traffic accident.
"God is good, and I want to celebrate His goodness, even in the midst of the confusion and difficulties of life and unanswerable questions."
The musical influences on his album, "Speechless," included Collective Soul, The Wallflowers and The Dave Matthews Band. "I'm probably more influenced in terms of new music by what my kids like. That could be everything from The Supertones and Ska music to Newsboys and Delirious?."
Lyrically, Steven Curtis Chapman continues to be influenced by great Christian authors of past and present. The biography of Jim Elliot, "Through Gates of Splendor," and Oswald Chambers' life story, "Abandoned to God," had a profound impact on Steven. "These two books got me thinking about what I am doing that really matters? These two guys lived lives that said 'right now at this moment am I doing what I think looks the most like obedience to God, and am I surrendering to His will?' They were just radically committed to the Gospel."
An avid reader, Chapman has also absorbed books by classic authors including A.W. Tozer and Corrie Ten Boom. Contemporary writers Chapman admires include Phillip Yancey, David McCullough, Mike Yaconelli and Brennan Manning. "Manning's book 'Abba's Child,' deeply affected. I'm so astonished at God's love, and I want to be captured by it and invite others into that process with me."
Steven Curtis Chapman was invited to participate in several major projects during his sabbatical. He contributed "I Will Not Go Quietly" to the Grammy Award winning "The Apostle" soundtrack and filmed a music video featuring the star of the movie, Robert Duvall. Chapman also contributed a song to the gold-selling album inspired by the hit movie, "The Prince of Egypt - Nashville."
As Chapman moves forward with a new chapter in his musical career, he takes a moment to look back from where he's come. "I'm having to shift into not being the new kid on the block. So this was 'where do you go beyond established artist and what does that look like?' "Chapman has decided to let others contemplate that question as he moves on with his mission in life. His time away has rekindled the fire of his faith.
"I was able to get far enough away that I feel like I've come back with a renewed sense of excitement about just writing and singing songs that talk about my faith in Jesus Christ. The songwriting that was done during that process gave birth to a renewed sense of awe and amazement and astonishment.
Gospel Music Association awards include --
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