Steven Curtis Chapman reveals God's message to him during pandemic; teams up with Brad Paisley

Steven Curtis Chapman publicity photo. | Derrek Kupish

Steven Curtis Chapman, the most awarded artist in Christian music history, has released a new song that reveals the message God shared with him concerning the coronavirus pandemic that has spread worldwide and led to the loss of life and jobs. 

Chapman kicked off the month of May by releasing a new song titled “Together” in collaboration with country stars Brad Paisley and Lauren Alaina, and gospel powerhouse Tasha Cobbs Leonard. The Five-time Grammy winner wanted to share with the world that together, “we'll get through this." 

Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit people affected by COVID-19 through the Opry Trust Fund and Gospel Music Association.

The following is an edited transcript of Chapman’s video interview with The Christian Post where the legendary singer talks about his new single and shares the message God put on his heart during this time of uncertainty.

CP: How did your latest single “Together” come about?

Chapman: As a songwriter, I do tend to process with a song. If you listen to my music over the years you can almost trace my life. And if you listen and read between the lines — sometimes you don't even have to read between the lines — it's very obvious what's going on in my life personally, in my family. It's just the way that we seem to kind of work through things in my life, my faith, for sure in relationship with God, and with others.

Denial is my happy place more when it comes to a lot of the news that just can drive me crazy. I'm trying to figure it out. Everybody's got a different story and you turn the channel, one click, and all of a sudden you're getting a completely different story. But I heard these words: "Together, we need each other. We'll get through this together."

That was something very unusual, those words, at least from my experience, coming from the television. Because usually, it's a lot of words about divisiveness or disunity. And suddenly, I was just seeing this darkness bringing us together and recognizing that we really are all in this together, we are all in the same boat, as the saying goes. We may be looking at it differently and looking out different windows and have different opinions and different ideas. But the truth is, none of us really knows what the full true completely right way of thinking or doing this is. 

It felt like a little crack of light had come shining through a crack in the door into the dark room. Music has the power sometimes to kick the door open. Where there's a little crack of light, you can maybe bring more light into that darkness. I've experienced that with my music for years.

This message of together, what I really heard in that, and what I think I've hoped to be able to explore in the song, is that it's an eternal truth. It's not just for this time, and it's not just a message for us as a nation or as the world, but it's eternally true that we are made for relationship. We're created for relationship with God first. It's so clear in Scripture. Right from the beginning of the story, God says about the very first man He created, Adam, it's not good for him to be alone. We need each other. We're made for relationship.

We're really wise to remember that there is an enemy ... and he's going to use whatever method he can to try to divide us. Jesus even says, in the New Testament, "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, a house divided is not going to stand." So I just felt like there was truth woven into all of this. So I wanted to try to kick the door open a little more, let more of that light in and wrote the song "Together." We'll get through this. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one thinking about it.

CP: How did the collaboration come about?

Chapman: It was really amazing how it sort of all did work together because I wrote the song and actually started recording it by myself. I just thought, "Man, it would really make a lot of sense to do this song together with other people, that seems like a great idea." Same idea that my friends for King and Country had because they've done their "Together" song with Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly. I didn't even know they were doing that. I know they didn't know I was doing it. Several of us are, all creative minds thinking alike, the stirring of the heart that says, "There must be something here that God wants us to hear and do."

I thought about it and thought, "I would love to bring some artists from other genres. It feels like this together idea, it would just be really neat to bring artists that I know have the same faith, have the same motivations for their life."

I know Brad's a believer. I knew him from just a few encounters a few times that we had done some things together. We're not close friends, but I've always respected him. He and his wife do great charity work here in Nashville, philanthropic work through something they started called "The Store" which serves people in need. So I reached out to him.

He responded and said, "I would love this. I love this idea. I think it's important; I think we need to say this together. I'd love to bring my part that I could do it and do something with you." So that was a huge encouragement right there. 

Then we talked, Brad and I, about what would be some other voices and some others who would still carry the same message and be consistent in the beliefs and in their faith, and Lauren's name came up. She's someone that I'd watched on "American Idol" and became a fan of hers, just great singer, but always loved her spirit. She was open and vocal about her faith, even then, singing in the church and she's continued to be, so I reached out to her. She just said, "I would be honored. I would love this. My family will flip out that I'm doing a song with Steven Curtis Chapman. We grew up listening to your music." So that was really sweet. 

Then finally, I really had thought how awesome it would be to have a gospel choir singing on this song. Just that power that only a gospel choir can bring. I thought, "Well, I can't really get a gospel choir with social distancing right now. But I could get a gospel choir rolled up in one voice and that'd be Tasha Cobbs Leonard. She's a powerhouse, and she is ... she just brings church to whatever she sings.

Because of all social distancing stuff, we were always separate from each other. We never were in the same studio. Actually, they all just did their parts individually in their little studios and then sent me all the pieces and it was literally like dumping out a puzzle and going, "Alright, is this going to fit together? Because we didn't plan it, we didn't figure out OK, you sing this line, you sing that. I didn't want to dictate that, I just wanted to let them do what they felt and see if it makes sense. But it all came together. My co-producer and dear friend, Brent Milligan, he took all the pieces and he's a technical whiz. He said, "Man, this is crazy. It really works; it all makes sense." 

CP: What do you think is the spiritual message that we're all supposed to get in this season? I would love to learn about your devotional time with God, or quiet time with God, and what you feel He's saying to you.

Chapman:  First of all, I think God is really saying, at a deeper level than we ever have experienced, at least in my lifetime, as a nation, as humanity, just globally: "Will you really trust me? Will you trust that I do not just have you on my radar but that I have you written on my heart, in the palm of my hands, that I know the number of hairs on your head." He knows intimate details. 

My family and I experienced 12 years ago this month, May 2008, we lost our youngest daughter in such a tragic day. This month is always so difficult for our family with Maria's birthday, she'd be 17 on May 13 and May is Mother's Day and that's always difficult for my wife.

And the day that Maria went to be with Jesus, we pass through our own darkest of days and seasons and we're still in that and will be until Heaven. I think that's what this has been, watching the devastation of this in so many people who have lost loved ones and lost jobs and lost any sense of security and stability in their lives.

Yet those are, if we allow them to be, the times when we are most aware, and come face-to-face with the reality that God is God and we are not, that we're not in control. That's a maddening thing until we embrace it and find the freedom in it. I don't say that as one who has mastered that, I say that is one who still grapples with it. 

I believe at my clearest moments what I know is that we have to drop our anchor into what is most true and what is most real. Because it is true and real that there's a lot of uncertainty and there's a lot of reason to be afraid. I'm in an industry that there's still no really sure way of knowing when I'm going to be able to go back to work. And my sons are also in a band and feed their families by doing live concerts and bringing people together and celebrating the gift of music. And we don't know when that's going to come back.

So again, we are all in this together in so many ways and to let those things draw, press us in closer to the God who made us, the God who loves us, God who says, "I'm with you, and I'm for you in this way, do you trust that?"

You don't have to pretend. God's not saying, "Hey, cheer up, put on a happy face." [It's the] God who says, "bring it all to me, bring the confusion, bring the fear, bring the questions. Know that in this world you are going to have trouble, but know that I've overcome the world. I am in control and I am good, I'm faithful, I'm with you in this and I am for you." 

Those are the things that I'm hearing God whispering in my own heart as I've been troubled and just kind of a disturbance generally in my own heart of just the uncertainty of having to trust God and that He really is our source.

He's the one that provides for us, and He will continue to do that. It won't be in the ways we maybe have known before, there will be new normals. We've heard that phrase, which our family is learning that. Really, it's just trusting Him in that. It's so simple. It's just really all going back to the simple trust that "God, you're God, I'm not; you're in control. I don't even know what that means totally but I'm going to trust it because I can either fight against it and fight my way through it, or really rest and trust in you."

CP: Is there anything else that you want to share with us?

Chapman: I just hope that we can really remember that we don't know what we've got until it's gone, and sometimes it's the seasons when we are isolated that we really remember there are a lot of people that are feeling that isolation and feeling alone.

Maybe it's someone [reading] right now and you just need to hear and know that "God is aware of my situation intimately." We really do need each other, and we need to reach out to each other. Even though we're isolated and separated, just encourage each other. Maybe it's a text, maybe it's a phone call to somebody today just to say, "Hey, I'm thinking about you, you matter, you're important to God and to me, and I just want you to know that."

Those simple things we can learn in this season as we're praying about the big things — praying for our leaders, praying for an end to this, praying for a cure and for this just to come to an end — that we really remember to just be showing up in the moments of this day, to encourage each other and just to trust God.

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