Friday, December 22, 2006

I never knew this about Steven Curtis Chapman

Singing adoption's praises
Chapman speaks from personal experience
Copley, Rich. Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 17, 2006, Faith/Values pg. F1.

Steven Curtis Chapman sees Christmastime as a perfect time to champion his cause celebre, adoption.

"It's a time of year when everyone is walking past the bell ringers from the Salvation Army in front of the department stores and seeing opportunities around to give and, being presented with that, people are in a mood to think, 'What can I do to give something to people who have a greater need than I do?'"

Chapman says. "I just felt like this would be a great time to do that, in this season where people are thinking in those terms a little more and bring some focus to this issue."

Chapman is bringing that issue and his music to Lexington this weekend as he and MercyMe wind up their Christmas tour at Rupp Arena Sunday night.The tour stop brings Chapman back near his old stomping grounds.

"I attended a little school down the road called Georgetown College," Chapman says, "and I used to come hang out in Lexington. It was the big town when we had to go see a movie or something."

Among the Paducah native's memories are a night at the movies when his basketball-obsessed brother returned from getting popcorn and declared, "I just ran into Sam Bowie's belt buckle!"

Chapman eventually transferred from Georgetown and went on to make contemporary Christian music history.

Chapman is one of the genre's top-selling and most honored artists, with more than 9 million albums sold and five Grammy and 49 Dove Awards on his mantel -- well, maybe they aren't all on his mantel.

That is now, but when he went to make his first Christmas album in 1995, he thought it might be his one shot.

"I kind of set out to make the consummate Christmas record," Chapman says of that album, The Music of Christmas. "I thought I'd pull out all the stops and do everything I'd ever want to do, and put the American Boys Choir on there and went to London to record the strings."

In 2003, he recorded a Christmas disc for Hallmark that was available exclusively to customers at the company's stores. That album, Christmas Is All in the Heart, combined material from both Chapman's first Christmas disc and his current one.

Chapman is a guy who says he could make a Christmas album every year, putting on an Elvis vibe one year, Nat King Cole the next.

But for his third holiday effort, he wanted to continue the momentum of adoption awareness he had raised with his last album, last year's All Things New, and tour. Wrapped around his neck in his new Christmas album's cover is his adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope, 5.

She is one of three children Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, have adopted from China. They also have three biological children.

On All I Want for Christmas, Shaohannah appears reading Scripture and singing, and the title song is written from the point of view of a child longing to be adopted. Outside of the art, the Chapmans have established Shaohannah's Hope, an agency that helps reduce the financial barriers to adoption for families.

"My life has been lived out pretty openly," Chapman says. "Whatever affects me personally, that's where my music comes from, that's where the art that I create comes from.

"I feel like the people that listen to my music ... are friends. It's a very large circle of friends, but I feel pretty tied in with people that listen to my music. I feel like we've been on this journey together. I've shared everything from my parents' divorce a few years ago, which deeply affected me, to my wife and my marriage and my other children's lives.

"So there's probably not much that's personal that I'm not going to write about and share from stage. So adoption was such a natural thing when I saw how much it affected our lives."

Chapman says boosting adoption is not as much a matter of his getting on a soapbox as it is, "You just had an amazing experience -- you've read a great book or seen an incredible movie -- and you want to tell everyone you care about, 'You've got to see this. This will deeply affect you. This will enrich your life and make your life fuller and richer.'

"Adoption has been that for us. Getting involved in the lives of orphans and bringing some of them into our family, or helping other families to do that and watching how it has blessed them and made their lives richer has been one of our great joys as a family."

At Christmastime, the Chapmans want to bring that joy to the world.Reach Herald-Leader arts writer Rich Copley at (859) 231-3217 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3217, or

Steven Curtis Chapman
With: MercyMe.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Rupp Arena.Tickets: $18-$75.Phone: (859) 233-3535.
Information on the Shaohannah's Hope Foundation can be found at


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