Steven Curtis Chapman finds strength in sharing Christian music

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Early in his music career, contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman noticed something while performing.

The spotlight.

“I realized years ago that when I play on a stage in front of an audience, sometimes a spotlight shines on me, and if I walk around the stage that spotlight will follow me,” he said in an interview last week with Lighthouse Christian Broadcasting. “Well, if the guitar player is doing a guitar solo — and people are looking at me and I want them to look at him — I’ll walk over there and the spotlight follows me, and I’m able to kind of direct the focus of people that are looking to me. I can redirect their view to this thing that’s going on.

“So it’s been important to me over the years to use that spotlight, if you will, to direct people’s eyes to things that I see God doing and places where I really see God working.”

Tonight, Mr. Chapman — winner of five Grammys and dozens of gospel music awards — brings that spotlight to Amplify Church in Plum, where he will be promoting his latest album, “The Glorious Unfolding.”

“The reason I started doing this from the beginning — I never imagined I’d sell a hundred records,” Mr. Chapman said in the interview. “It was one of those things that I couldn’t not do it.

“Music’s always come out of me, out of my life, my faith, my journey, my relationship with the Lord. Songs and music is how I’ve come to understand more about who God is. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to put those songs on an album and put it out and encourage other people and people were encouraged and have responded. I’ve been blessed for all these years.”

Mr. Chapman, 51, was born in Kentucky, the son of a guitar teacher. He went to college intending to study medicine, but he dropped out and went to Nashville to pursue a career in music, specifically contemporary Christian music.

A prolific songwriter, he has produced more than 20 inspirational and uplifting albums, and his tours have taken him around the world. His website says he played the first Christian concert performed for U.S. troops serving in South Korea, and a show he did in Shanghai, China, was “the first public performance by a gospel recording artist event in the city open to China passport holders.”

His visit to Pittsburgh tonight is not his first. In December, he opened for the contemporary worship band Casting Crowns for a holiday show at Consol Energy Center.

He was scheduled to headline the first-ever family-oriented Moraine Park Summer Festival in 2008, when his hit crossover song “Cinderella” was playing all across the radio, but he was forced to cancel when his 5-year-old daughter, the youngest of his six children, was struck and killed by a car driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of their Tennessee home.

It is a tragedy that tested and strengthened his faith — and inspired him to continue to carry the message of God’s promise through music. In the radio interview, he talked about why he continues to write, sing and tour.

“My journey is still going on,” he said. “If anything, the experiences are more profound, more full, more painful, more real, especially these last several years with my family and I walking through the very deep valley of losing our daughter.

“The music has been a part of the healing, and these songs have come out of that. I wanted to share that with people. I really believe God knows the plans he has for us, he is unfolding an amazing story, but it involves some really difficult chapters. It can really be painful, but hold on to his promises.”

And it is a message that he believes isn’t compartmentalized into Sunday mornings, but rather touches every moment of people’s lives.

He discussed it in a self-made YouTube discussion of his song “Do Everything.”

“Most of my life as a Christian — it’s one of those things that I have kind of wrestled with — I think we all have this tendency to want to kind of draw a line down life and say, ‘This is the spiritual stuff and then this is just the stuff,’ ” he said. “There’s that sacred-versus-secular kind of thing that goes on. And we all know that there isn’t a line, that it all matters. We can do everything that we do as an act of worship to glorify God.”

Mr. Chapman brings The Glorious Unfolding Tour — with artists The Afters and Josh Wilson — to Amplify Church, 9400 Saltsburg Road, in Plum tonight. Doors open at 6. Tickets are available for $25 and $35.

Dan Majors:

First Published March 12, 2014 3:56 PM

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