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Christian Music's Steven Curtis Chapman Tells His Story

The most awarded artist in Christian music shares about the early days of his career, the death of his daughter, and his new book Between Heaven and the Real World. Read Transcript

MAN (VOICEOVER): Steven Curtis Chapman

is the most awarded artist in Christian music with 58 Dove

Awards, five Grammys, and 48 number one singles.

I caught up with Steven and his wife, Mary Beth,

at his recording studio in Nashville.

You started out more as a songwriter

before you became a singer of the song, or what?

Well, for me, it was because my brother, Herbie,

was the singer.

And he had the voice.

And my voice, first off, was a guitar, was an instrument.

And that's how I really sort of said what I wanted to say.

So I spent a lot of time with the guitar.

And my dad wrote songs.

My dad and his buddies would get together and talk about it

in the book, shut the kitchen door.

And I'd hear him.

I'd put my ear up to the door.

And they'd be recording these songs.

So I knew that was something really cool.

But I never thought of myself being

able to do that until I saw appear somebody kind of my age

who'd written a song.

And I thought, well, maybe I could do that.

Even then when I would play songs that I wrote,

I would notice just a different reaction from my friends.

They would lean in a little bit more

and listen to what I was singing, as opposed

to if I was singing a, whatever, James Taylor song or--

"Puppy Love."

Yeah, "Puppy Love," the Donny Osmond song.

So I think that's where I really began to find my voice.

MAN (VOICEOVER): After 30 years as a singer and songwriter,

Steven has taken some time off to write

his memoir, "Between Heaven & the Real World--

My Story."

The stories that have had the deepest impact on me

and one of the reasons I was excited to finally get

to write my story, it's when I can read the story of others

who are following Christ, who are committed, but just

are still on the journey, they haven't arrived, and can

be honest about that process.

MAN (VOICEOVER): In his book, Steven

takes us from small town Paducah, Kentucky,

all the way to Carnegie Hall.

He's candid about raising a family--

adopting three girls from China and his 32-year marriage

to Mary Beth.

MARY BETH CHAPMAN: It took all of, I think,

the drive home from the wedding, like two days

after our wedding, where I was crying all the way home.

And you were like, this is going to be--

Yeah, uh-oh.

Yeah, we basically went--

This is going to be harder than we thought.

--this is going to be a long life.

Yeah, this is--

(LAUGHING) This is going to be a long life.

A long life.

A long life.

But yeah, just making a decision to live as authentically

and talk, when we're going to be interviewed, when

we are going to write, that it is

going to be an honest approach at life.

Because we all have that stuff.


We are not immune.

MAN (VOICEOVER): Steven and Mary Beth

lost their youngest child, Maria, in a tragic accident

at their home.

Maria was running to meet her older brother, Will,

as he was pulling into the driveway,

and she was struck by his SUV.

How many years ago was this now?

Almost nine.

Almost nine.

It's coming up on nine.

Is the pain of that still there?


It is?


You talk about it in depth in the book.

And you do talk about it publicly all the time.

I share the story from my perspective of just that scene

of us huddled, arms around each other,

just looking at each other, saying,

we know this is going to be hard.

We have no idea how hard or where this is going to go,

but we have got to get through this together as a family.

We're only going to make it together

holding onto each other and holding

onto the promises of God.

It almost is like God, in our case,

gave us a shot of anesthesia to your body and to your heart,

in a way, that you can survive, that there's

enough of a numbness.

You're very much alive and very aware of eternity.

In "Heaven and the Real World" there,

I talk a lot about that heaven has never

been more clear to me.

I've never been more sure that we are made for eternity.

And I talk about speaking that to the nurses and doctors

standing around right there after Maria

had gone to be with Jesus.

Where are you now?

Where is it all now?

Where is music?

Where are you going?

Do you know?

Well, I start the book in Paducah.

But I get quickly to Carnegie Hall in New York, where I said,

people came to me after I played at Carnegie Hall and said,

this had to be a dream come true for a kid

from Paducah, Kentucky.

And really, honestly, my answer was, no,

I can't say honestly it's a dream come true.

Because a kid from Paducah doesn't ever

think to dream quite this big.

So this journey has been beyond anything we

could have asked or imagined.

And we want to continue, honestly,

to be just faithful with the story God's entrusted to us.

Music, I'm sure, will be a part of that.

MAN (VOICEOVER): Music has been his career.

But Steven is a man grounded in the truth

of God's word, a common thread that's

woven throughout his songs.

(SINGING) Now there is no condemnation.

And now there is no guilt or shame.

It says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

And that's a promise that we have had to hold onto.

Because so many moments in our story--

and all of us have a story of, life is anything but tasting

good at that moment or looking--

what we see does not look good.

But even before then, can we really

believe that we were still going to get

to see the goodness of the Lord, that we were going

to have grandchildren and we were

going to stand at the crib of our first grandbaby

with tears in our eyes, with our arms around each other,

and say, we made it to this point,

we're getting to celebrate this moment together,

this new beginning, the new life that God has given us,

and the beauty that has and is coming from the ashes,

even as we're hoping and longing for what's yet to be realized

when God finally wipes every tear from our eyes?

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