Remembering 9/11: 6 Christian Artists Honor The Day America Will Never Forget
It’s been two decades since America’s freedom was threatened on our very soil. The surprise terror attacks on September 11, 2001, claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people. When tragedy strikes, artists are customarily some of the first to use their God-given gifts to put lyric and melody to feelings few can adequately express. The collective emotions experienced on that now historic Tuesday morning were captured in song by a select few and felt by countless others in a myriad of ways. In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, K-LOVE looks back at a small cross section of the stories and songs that poured out in the aftermath of the day that will never be forgotten.
“This is one of those moments when all that really matters is crystal clear,” @Amy Grant sings on the first line of “I Don’t Know Why.” The song appears on Grant’s critically-acclaimed project, Simple Things (2003). Although it doesn’t mention the September 11 attacks by name, Grant penned the winding mid-tempo selection to provide space for all of our collective questions as Americans across the nation grappled with the events that unfolded. Grant and her co-writer, longtime collaborator Wayne Kirkpatrick, acknowledge time to be fleeting and the future to be uncertain. Yet, “I Don’t Know Why” finds Grant clinging to the only things she knows to be true—the fragility of the present moment and the faithfulness of God.
@DC Talk reunited in the midst of their now infamous hiatus to record “Let’s Roll,” a one-off, fist-pumping single released in 2002. The lauded trio’s “Let’s Roll” takes its title from the memorable last words spoken by Todd Beamer over the phone as he indicated that he and the other passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 planned to overtake the terrorists who had highjacked their plane following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The anthemic track tributes Beamer and his fellow passengers who went down with that plane as heroes. President George W. Bush invoked Beamer’s final mantra multiple times as he addressed the nation following the unprecedented attacks.
Michael W. Smith
Commissioned by his good friend President George W. Bush to write a song about the September 11 attacks, Smith personifies the American flag in “There She Stands.” The poignant ballad, honoring her iconic stars and stripes, closes his album, Worship Again, which debuted in 2002. The collection followed what is now considered the biggest LP of @Michael W. Smith's career, Worship, which ironically released on Sept. 11, 2001, delivering a timely source of comfort even the singer himself could have never predicted. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the landmark project, on Sept. 10, 2021, Smith is set to bow a reimagined version of Worship, whose 13 original tracks were recorded alongside a full symphony orchestra and a live audience back in July.
Just two weeks prior to 9/11, @Natalie Grant put her stamp on “The Star Spangled Banner” in the recording studio. One month after the attacks on the World Trade Center took place, Grant was invited to sing the National Anthem at a memorial at Ground Zero. The five-time GMA “Female Vocalist of the Year” has since performed her goosebump-inducing version of the patriotic anthem numerous times. She’s lent her powerful voice to the timeless classic ahead of kickoff for her hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks; and more recently, alongside her husband during an episode of the couple’s Instagram Live series, “A Song A Day Keeps The Crazies Away,” a daily tradition developed during 2020’s quarantine. Singing the song at Ground Zero in the direct aftermath of the terror attacks in 2001, however, remains one of the greatest moments of Grant’s career.
Steven Curtis Chapman
A year to the day of the terror attacks, @Steven Curtis Chapman found himself in New York City for a concert. Driving into the city, he was inspired to write a song honoring the significant moment in history and the events that transpired. That night, Chapman played the newly-minted song he titled “Remember The Day” for the NYC audience. “One thing that we all are very familiar with and acquainted with well is pain in our lives, and sadness and loss; and that connects us probably more than anything, I think, just as human beings,” the songwriter shares of the impetus behind the track. As someone who knows the searing pain of loss all too well, Chapman penned the selection as a special gift to New York City and his audience that evening as, together, they marked the first anniversary of that fateful day.
While South African outfit @Tree63 doesn’t have a specific song in their discography pertaining to 9/11, for the band, the terror attacks hit a little too close to home. In anticipation of kicking off a U.S. tour, the group—best known for their recording of Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” and their original, “Treasure”—arrived in New York City on Sept. 10, 2001. Tree63 had a full day of sightseeing planned for the following day with an early morning stop at the World Trade Center topping their itinerary. Fortunately, their tour manager overslept the following morning, delaying their scheduled visit to the Twin Towers.