hristian musician Steven Curtis Chapman, who won his fifth Grammy recently, will perform Thursday, March 31, at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Special guests on his “All Things New Tour” will be the Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin.

Chapman, whose music is a blend of rock, country and standard worship songs, recently took a two-day break from touring to visit his family and to let his voice recover. “My voice needs a break” said the noticeably horse singer, speaking with a slight Southern drawl, in a phone interview.

Over his 18-year career, the renowned gospel artist has sold more than 9 million records, recorded 41 No. 1 hits and received 47 Dove Awards, the most prestigious recognition given to Gospel musicians. Each of his Grammys has been for Best Contemporary Gospel Album, the most recent one for “All Things New.”

“I came from a musical family,” said Chapman. His father ran a music store in the small Kentucky town of Paducah; and as a young boy Chapman spent a lot of time there – something he believes contributed to his love of music.

After attending college, he moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. While there, he met a number of people affiliated with the Christian music scene. After starting out as a songwriter, he switched to playing his own songs and he hasn’t looked back since.

“My music and faith grew up together,” Chapman said, explaining there was a “radical change in my parents’ and siblings’ lives” after they attended a Church revival service when he was 7 years old. He, too, became deeply religious and that passion has stayed with him throughout his life.

Chapman also cites his family as a solid source of inspiration. “My family, my marriage, all of that has been a fertile soil where those ideas (for songs) have grown up.” His goal as a musician is to examine the place of religion and family in his life. It’s all about “tearing the walls down between the two,” he said.

Chapman’s parental and familial inspirations extend even beyond his music. A strong advocate for adoption, Chapman and his wife are the parents of three adopted Chinese children, Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy and Maria Sueas, well as three children who came into the Chapman family via the traditional method. The family started a foundation for adoption and advocacy and named it after Shaohannah.

The “All Things New Tour” brings him away from his family; however, the Casting Crowns, Christian music’s top-selling new artist in 2004, and Chris Tomlin are “the best touring mates,” Chapman said.

“The Casting Crowns have taken the Christian music world by storm,” said Chapman, who helped produce and write some of the group’s songs. They are “great people with a lot of integrity,” he added, describing Tomlin as “one of my favorites for awhile now.” Credited with such venerable church choruses as “We Fall Down” and “The Wonderful Cross,” Tomlin is considered one of this era’s top songwriters for the church.

Chapman is excited about returning to play in Maine, although he admits he cannot remember the last time he was here. “I know we were somewhere in Texas at some point in the past few years,” he said, a testament to the hectic nature of touring. He does remember that “people are always excited when we are there (in Maine)” because Christian rock groups don’t usually travel that far north.

Despite being 41, an age when many musicians consider retirement, Chapman is far from ready to call it quits. Besides touring, he plans to release a new album, “The Abbey Road Sessions,” and accompanying DVD this month. Chapman recorded the album six or seven years ago in the legendary studio which once housed the Beatles. “That was just an awesome experience,” he said. The album is comprised mostly of unplugged versions of earlier releases, with music that is “so fresh and so live,” according to Chapman.


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