Anderson, Indiana

Steven Curtis Chapman's latest album written after daughter's death

Thu, 2011-09-29 08:00 -- univcomm
September 29, 2011

It’s been almost more than three years since Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter to an car accident.

Now, the Anderson University alumnus is ready to address the effect of the tragedy when 5-year-old Maria was run over by a vehicle driven by a brother in the family driveway in Tennessee.

chapman-singsChapman is telling fans that through tragedy, God has re-created within himself and his family.

Chapman revisits old songs and sings them with newfound meaning on his new album, “re•creation.” On Thursday evening, Chapman will play to a sold-out crowd at Trader’s Point Christian Church near Whitestown. Joined by friends Andrew Peterson and Josh Wilson, he will share the stories behind the songs he’s written throughout the years.

In a phone interview with Chapman, The Herald Bulletin asked about the album, tour and family.

THB: You are familiar with Anderson. How did you end up at Anderson University?

Chapman: While making my way after high school, I was working at Opryland one summer. It was my first professional gig as a singer. A guy in the crowd saw my bio. He came to talk to me and said, “I see you write gospel music.” Then he asked me to play, so I did. He was part-owner of a recording studio in Alexandria, Indiana. He told me he was good friends with Bill Gaither. Well, I was already heading to Georgetown College in Kentucky. I asked him where he went to school, and he said AU. ...

God had plans that I would not only go to school there but meet the love of my life, Mary Beth. That place has a special significance in my life and career. It shaped my understanding of who God is.

THB: Your tour, the Songs and Stories Tour, is a little different. What prompted the change?

Chapman: What if we could take the audience on that journey to where the songs came from? The idea was from that.

I knew a few guys. Josh Wilson — people say he reminds them of me 20 years ago. He’s a guitar slingin’ singer. It’s just great to have other songwriters at different points in time on their journey to share with me.

THB: Where did the idea for “re•creation” come from?

Chapman: I took the songs that have been very significant in my journey in 25 years that have taken on new meanings my life. You get down the road and get to understand more or less. You go to Jesus. There are great adventures, so much adventure in life with higher mountains and deeper valleys. I thought it would be great to record those songs in the meaning that they have now.

THB: Was selecting songs for the new album easy or challenging?

Chapman: I guess they all have some real significant reasons for being chosen. I usually have 30 to 40 new ideas. Some real personal songs came out for me. The “Beauty Will Rise” recording was fresh for me.

THB: The death of your youngest daughter, Maria Sue, has been a driving force behind your new songs. Tell me about it.

Chapman: My wife says it beautifully. God has begun to lead us in our first steps out of a dark forest. It’s been encouraging and scary — scary because she doesn’t want to feel like she’s left things behind. It’s been such a journey for us.

I wanted to sing to my friends that have prayed for us and listened to my music. I wanted to sing to them. I wanted to tell them that we are learning to laugh again and smile again. I wanted songs to represent that. It’s kind of like going back in order to step forward. Here’s what God is teaching me to do.

(The song) “All That’s Left” came from the words (son) Caleb spoke at Maria’s funeral. We spend so much time with things that are temporary, but relationships last. Love remains. It’s so important that I could share this now with such a conviction.

THB: Did you question God a lot about Maria’s death?

Chapman: Absolutely. It continues to be a time full of questions. God, what do I do with this? How do we move on? There were lots of questions about who God is and is not and how to process things. The questions have been a real part of the journey.

—April Abernathy is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the eighth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.