Steven Curtis Chapman Becomes First Artist in Christian Music History to Earn 50 No. 1s
By Lindsay Williams
A songwriting trailblazer from Paducah, Kentucky, Steven Curtis Chapman is one of Christian music’s most prolific artists with twenty-three albums to his credit.
Before he was the household name in Christian music, Steven grew up in a tight-knit family in Kentucky playing the guitar and singing. Given his early love of music, it really wasn’t a surprise when he traded in his pre-med major in Kentucky for a shot at pursuing music in Nashville.
After writing a track that was recorded by The Imperials, Steven eventually signed a songwriting deal and penned songs for other artists before releasing his first album, First Hand in 1987. Another project, Real Life Conversations, would follow a year later, and Steven officially had his breakthrough in the music scene. An outspoken advocate for adoption awareness, Steven and his wife Mary Beth adopted three daughters from China, Shaohannah, Stevie Joy and Maria Sue.
In 2008, Maria was killed when she was accidentally run over in the family’s driveway. Steven channeled the pain from that tragedy and his ultimate hope in God into his album Beauty Will Rise, which featured "Heaven is the Face," a song written in remembrance of his daughter. Describing the songs as his “personal psalms,” Steven was able to share his and his family’s story of hope in the midst of sorrow in mainstream media outlets including “Larry King Live,” “Fox News” and "People."
His reflections continued in his album Safe In The Arms, as Steven worked with fellow Christian artist Matt Redman. The release was coupled with a tour with his wife Mary Beth entitled "A Night with the Chapmans," where she showcased her new book Choosing to See. The book discusses the journey of the Chapman's over the past few years, and the role of their faith and hope in God to get them through.
Steven's project, Re:creation, represents a new chapter in the Chapman's life as they emerge from the heartache of their loss.
“As God has been really recreating new life in us -my family and I- as we’ve walked through this time, it just seemed like something that made sense for me to re-share those songs,” Chapman said to K-LOVE’s Scott and Kelli. “And there are some new songs that I’ve written along the process that feel like they kind of begin to bring us into a new season of hopefulness.”
From a place of suffering and surrender and now hopefulness Steven began writing songs that illuminate the promises of God and declare truths from scripture resulting in his first worship album Worship and Believe.
"I thought maybe I could be the guy who is not in a particular worship camp community," Steven says. "I'm not a Passion artist or Bethel artist or Gateway. I thought, 'What if I were to bring all those different communities together musically - in a way - to create this project?'"
The album is also influenced by artists like Rich Mullins and Wes King.
"For me, some of the greatest worship music maybe wasn't even called worship music at the time," Steven reflects. "Rich Mullins' 'Step by Step' is probably the song I sung before I even knew what those songs were called ... if I'm going to make this kind of music, I want to draw on some of the influences that have most inspired me."
Steven's music is hopeful. It's also a call to and celebration of unity, as Christians rally around who and what we worship and believe, declaring it together, as one body.