For more than thirty years Gary Chapman has seamlessly blended contemporary pop, country, Christian and southern gospel, racking up an impressive musical resume that includes multiple Grammy nominations and Dove Awards (including “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year”).
Chapman’s first new studio album in over a decade, “The Truth” features sixteen new studio recordings and features special vocal appearances by the likes of Allison Krauss, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Tanya Tucker and John Rich. On a more personal level, The Truth also showcases performances by Chapman’s daughter Sarah on “Put it in His Hands,” and wife Cassie on the Christmas-themed, “All About a Baby.”
In addition to the new album, Chapman’s wife Cassie will take part in the upcoming TNT reality series “Private Lives of Nashville Wives” which premieres on February 24th.
I spoke with Chapman about his new album as well as Private Lives of Nashville Wives. He also delivers the truth when it comes to finding faith in troubled times.
It’s been more than ten years since your last studio album. What sparked this project?
My dad had lived with me and my wife until he died about four years ago. The thing that really brought him comfort toward the end of his life was me sitting beside his bed and playing some of the songs that he had taught me many years ago. There was something really powerful about going over those songs. I wanted to write an album and find a body of songs that really mattered and one that might live beyond me. That’s what I set out to do.
Why the title “The Truth”?
It’s pretty direct. I didn’t want to hide anything. It’s important for me to try to break down the stereotype that Christians have about somehow “having it all together”. The fact is, we don’t. We all have the same issues and struggles as everyone else. I wanted to do it in an all-embracing way. I like to refer to it as a Christian record for people who maybe aren’t church-goers or might not even be professing Christians yet, but they have something inside of them that requires something more.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album: “The Rough Crowd”.
I actually found that song along with “I Didn’t Find Jesus” years ago and knew that at some point I wanted to cut them. When I did record it, one of my co-producers (Ray Hamilton) said “You know, this song could really benefit from more personalities.” At first I fought him on it, but once we started talking about who it could be, it all started to make sense. Having Tanya Tucker sing about the woman at the well and John Rich saying he cussed, raised hell, drank and stumbled but knew someone was with him – it just doesn’t get much better.
“All About A Baby”.
My wife Cassie has a really beautiful voice, but getting her into the studio was like pulling teeth [laughs]! We have a nine-month old girl that we adopted so when I found “All About A Baby” it made total sense. It’s a Christmas song if you had to categorize it, but it’s really not. The message is year round.
“Put It In His Hands” was a song you recorded with your daughter, Sarah. How did that come about?
Sarah has such a cool, distinct voice and I’ve been wanting to sing something with her for quite a while. I wrote the song about a moment I had with my dad towards the end of his life. To have a three generational impact was what I was going for.
What is your songwriting process?
One of the things that I love about my formula is that I don’t have a plan. It changes every single time. Sometimes it will be an observation that may culminate into a thought or a hook. Then I’ll take it and store it away. I don’t tend to write things down very much. My logic has always been if the ideas are really good, then they’ll always come back. And they do. Over the years I’ve learned that the songs that just overwhelm you and make themselves undeniable are the ones that really matter. I wait for those moments.
What can you tell me about Cassie’s show, Private Lives of Nashville Wives?
A film crew follows around six Nashville couples as they go about their lives. It really is completely unscripted. Sometimes it’s centered around an event, but everyone tends to move through life the same regardless of whether or not there’s something going on. One of the story lines documents the process of me making this musical project and another one is about the baby. Cassie and I are big proponents of adoption and it’s a really great story.
Will this show be different than some of those other wife reality shows?
Whenever you get six women together you’re bound to get drama, but it won’t be one of those “weave pulling, drunken brawls” that some of those shows turn into [laughs].
What do you think is the secret to having faith in troubling times?
I think you have to know where the bottom is before you know where you stand. You have to clear away all of the distraction from your vision and really come to grips with your own mortality. That will happen as you get older but the younger you can make the decision, the better the life you’re going to have. You eventually have to submit to the reality that you need God. And if you truly believe that he is who he say he was and remains, everything is better. The good times are better and the bad times are endurable. Everything changes when you’ve got a new-found perspective.