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Tragedy woven into Steven Curtis Chapman's songs

October 14, 2013 Updated: October 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm
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Steven Curtis Chapman has always had stories to tell through his songs.

One song, however, hurts more than all the rest.

"Cinderella" is the sing-to-your-daughter tearjerker that has become a tradition at weddings as girls dance with their fathers. Chapman, a popular Christian recording artist, wrote it in 2007 when he realized how easy it is to rush through life, missing all the day-to-day things with your children. It was perfectly fine, he realized, to just enjoy the silliness of his little girls as they turned into little Cinderella characters rather than get ready for bed. He hadn't shown that patience when his older daughter was small, and he realized that he had missed out.

The next year his tiny, 5-year-old, pretend-princess daughter Maria was killed in the driveway of their Nashville home when she was accidentally struck by a vehicle driven by the Chapmans' teen-age son, Will.

"After that I shut down to pull my family together," he said during an interview from a stop on his "The Glorious Unfolding" tour. "Would I be able to write more music? Would I ever be able to write up-tempo, celebrating songs?"

The multiple Dove and Grammy winner wondered, "when you walk through something that devastating, are my songs from the past still true?"

They were, but just a bit different, he realized.

"I want to celebrate and that's what this tour is, a celebration of God's faithfulness to our family. It's not being over or through anything. It's that after time the joy and hope are more prevalent than the tears and it's OK to celebrate."

For several years he and wife, Mary Beth, struggled with what to do with their home. The spot where Maria died was in front of them every day. “My wife said, ‘I can’t leave here with all the sweet memories but I can’t live here.’"

"For most families, the marriages won't survive the loss of a child. You're holding onto each other, you're turning on each other. We continue to walk that journey."

They had the house torn down to the foundation. "We kept some aspects of our house but did a reconstruction, a new beginning, a new start on the same piece of land."

The driveway was moved.

The boyish-looking Chapman wrote a love song for Mary Beth in honor of their 29th anniversary this month. "Together" is part of this tour and, he says, "I'm really hopeful that this song will encourage and minister to people in a deep way."

Another special song: "Something Beautiful," which celebrates God "taking broken things in life and turning them into something good."

Part of the family's life celebration is the birth of their first grandbaby, son Will's marriage, sons Caleb and Will's journey to their own music careers, a song "Only One and Only You" for daughter Shaohannah, who just turned 14 (“and that age tells you a lot,” he says), and daughter Stevey Joy's gymnastics prowess. Altogether the Chapmans have three biological and three adopted children, “three natural and three supernatural,” one of whom was Maria Sue. The family’s work with international adoptions is woven into Steven Chapman’s tours.

 He will follow this tour with “The Story (Christmas) Tour” in November and December, which also features Casting Crowns, Natalie Grant, Nicole Nordeman and Matthew West.

At the end of the interview he said he wants those who have followed him through the years to know this: "We are, as a family, very grateful for the prayers and for the support that has carried us through."


What: “The Glorious Unfolding Tour” with Laura Story and Jason Gray
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Springs First Church of the Nazarene, 4120 E. Fountain Blvd.
Tickets: $25-$35, 596-5119,

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