Grammy-winning contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman will perform at 7 pm Monday, December 13 at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum as part of his “Acoustic Christmas” tour.
Born in Paducah, Chapman began his career in 1987 in Nashville. His first record, “First Hand”, received Gold Disc certification, as did his third album, “More to this Life”, in 1989.
Chapman won his first Grammy for Best Pop Gospel Album for his follow-up, “For the Love of the Call”, in 1992, and won the following year for “The Great Adventure”. It won the award for Best Contemporary Pop / Gospel Album for “The Live Adventure” in 1994.
Since then, Chapman has established himself as one of the most successful Christian musicians, releasing more than 25 albums during his 34-year career – winning five Grammys and 54 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, with 49 No.1 hits. on Christian radio, including tracks like “I Will Be Here” and “Sometimes He Comes In The Clouds”, and even received an honorary doctorate in music from Anderson University in Muncie, Indiana.
Chapman’s most recent studio release, the 2019 record “Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows,” revisits Chapman’s childhood and the music he grew up with. The record earned him his 18th Grammy nomination.
Chris Joslin, Executive Director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, is eager to bring Chapman to Owensboro and have a different kind of artist on stage than the usual venue fare.
“It’s different, but at the same time, it makes a lot of sense,” Joslin said. “Steven Curtis Chapman has Kentucky roots and he ended up playing bluegrass. His father is a musician, and a bluegrass musician, more precisely…. He doesn’t go bluegrass, but I think it’s really part of his DNA.
Joslin said that while the show is not an acoustic bluegrass show per se, Chapman will be joined on stage by Keith Sewell, who has performed with a number of bluegrass artists and other musicians such as Earl Scruggs, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Ricky Skaggs, and the chicks.
“In a lot of ways this will be what you would expect from Steven Curtis Chapman, with great writing and vocals,” Joslin said. “But there is definitely going to be an acoustic surge. I think that makes a lot of sense, and we’re delighted to welcome it.
Joslin explains that choosing Chapman as the museum’s Christmas show will appeal to fans of bluegrass and beyond.
“I think every year there is a great opportunity… because at Christmas there is so much to sing and celebrate,” Joslin said. “I think part of what we want to do is keep things as fresh as possible and build an audience. What’s good about bluegrass music, and the acoustic roots music genre, is that stylistically it’s on a wide continuum today, which is really in our favor because bluegrass music is not. only one thing – you have everything from very traditional bluegrass, to jamgrass, to singer-songwriters and in between. I think this show fits into that continuum. I think it’s an attempt to really tie our Christmas show to someone with Kentucky roots and someone who stylistically fits that broad category, but still stays fresh.
Joslin has been keen for Chapman to play in Owensboro since Joslin moved to the area in 2015 from Nashville.
“We’ve been talking with his management company for a few years now to try to find the right opportunity to bring him here,” Joslin said. “Everything went well this year.
Although the holidays are a time of joy and fun, Chapman is known to show his vulnerable side in his performances and compositions, with his 2009 album, “Beauty Will Rise,” focusing on the accidental death of his daughter from 5 years old, Maria Sue.
But Joslin thinks that’s part of Chapman’s appeal and the venue’s overall purpose when booking entertainment.
“One of the things I always talk about is that we try to present music with a mission,” Joslin said. “… Everything we do is not just about entertainment. Of course, that’s why people come, and they’re drawn to live music. But I think the beauty of bluegrass, acoustics, and roots music is that it’s more than just entertainment, (and) I hope it goes a lot further than that. I think Steven Curtis Chapman is one of those artists that is really part of his hallmark – yes, he makes great music and the production is going to be wonderful, the vocals and the acting are going to be great (and) first order. He’s an incredible songwriter, and songwriters usually write about what they know about death; it is largely their experience.
But Joslin notes that he thinks Chapman writes with “a spirit of hope and impatience.”
“I think that’s one of the things that draws people to Steven Curtis Chapman and his music,” Joslin said. “I hope that with an acoustic trio in a small theater it will be even more experientially intimate for the audience.”
With Chapman being the last show scheduled for the year for the venue, Joslin reflected on the efforts he and his staff have made to bring back the live music after his shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, such as education efforts. , as well as programs like the Saturday Music Class Program and Open Bluegrass Jams.
“(The museum) does a lot of different things,” Joslin said. “We have a real educational mission (and) two floors of exhibit space, so we’re working on this side of the house on how to tell the story of bluegrass music…. We run a Bluegrass in the Schools program and we continue to work with the school system, despite some of the complexities they also face…. “
But Joslin notes that the live music is “the thing that energizes” the place.
“It’s the common thread – the common thread that really drives the energy of everything we do,” Joslin said. “We have tried to be safe and innovative in the way we present music live, whether it is ROMP, in the theater or on our outdoor stage. “
Since getting to the heart of the matter, Joslin has said the venue is able to have two sold-out shows, with Béla Fleck in November and the Lanham Brothers Jamboree earlier this month.
Joslin said Chapman’s show is about to sell.
“It sounds like that live music component, which is the gateway to a lot of people for all the other things that we do – it feels like it’s back and it’s loud,” said Joslin. “This gives us a lot of momentum for 2022.”
Proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours from a healthcare professional must be provided to be allowed to enter the concert hall.