Steven Curtis Chapman Releases New Song Amid COVID-19 to Promote Togetherness and Unity
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Steven Curtis Chapman has never been one to sit back and take it easy. Always writing, performing, or touring, the five-time Grammy and 58-time Dove Award winner has spent the last 30 plus years in nearly non-stop motion. So, when the world ‘shut down’ last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, Steven had a lot of time on his hands.
Self-quarantined and stuck at home, Steven became restless, so much so that he helped his wife plant a vegetable garden … and he wrote a song designed to encourage us in these very uncertain times.
Steven has teamed up with country music superstar Brad Paisley, American Idol alum Lauren Alaina, and gospel music standout Tasha Cobbs Leonard, to record “Together (We’ll Get Through This), a song whose proceeds will benefit the Opry Trust Fund and the Gospel Music Association’s Disaster Assistance Fund.
I recently social distanced myself from Steven via the safety of a phone conversation. In it, we discussed why the theme of togetherness is so important during the COVID-19 crisis, how the song came together despite unprecedented obstacles, and his greatest hope for the recording.
First off, how are you and your family making out during the COVID-19 pandemic ordeal? Are you at home?
Well, we are surviving and at moments, thriving. At other moments we are surviving, like everyone. There are some really wonderful things about this time that we have had together, if I may say that. Obviously, we're in a very devastating time and I want to be sensitive to that reality for many who have lost jobs and even loved ones. It's been a devastating time. And for us, we are feeling those concerns. My livelihood and vocation, which a lot of other people are able to benefit from, concerts and those kinds of things. There's a huge uncertainty and big question mark looming over that. It's been shut down, tours have been canceled and not sure how and when all of that is going to resume.
We've been in this thing together with everyone else, feeling the low level and sometimes the very high level of … there's a disturbance in the force. What's going to happen here? Where is this all going? As people of faith and believers that God is really in control and sovereign, we run back to that truth over and over daily, sometimes every 15 minutes to go, ‘Okay, this is what's most true.’ So, we’ve done well.
That song is called “Together (We’ll Get Through This)” which releases soon. Tell me about the process of how this song came together. What was the inspiration or the catalyst for writing this song.
You see a lot of people showing up with their iPhones and doing concerts. It's been really refreshing in a way, that people have traded the professionalism and the notion that the lighting has to be just right and I've got auto tune the vocal for the authenticity. All of us are in this together. So maybe, I can encourage you by turning on my iPhone on and singing a song.
For this song, I had the news on with all the talking heads on my television. But what was interesting in all of that is I kept hearing this word and these words around the idea of togetherness. People that you had not heard talking at all about unity or togetherness, saying things that sounded really refreshing and wonderfully encouraging in a time when it's just gotten crazy and so divisive. The reality is none of us really completely know or have it completely figured out. And yet we start drawing these lines and people are becoming the enemy. And so, it just was so refreshing to me to hear that language of we are all in this together.
The way we're going to get through this is going to be together, recognizing that, and to lay down the fighting and fussing, and lock arms. For me, that thought was really beautiful. It just kind of felt like, okay, why is that? Why is that so encouraging to hear? That’s because it's truth. It's what we were made for. We're made for relationship. We see it in the Bible and Scripture from the beginning. God said, I’m making you for relationship with me first. That's why we were created, to have community with our maker. And then to have it with each other, it's not good for man to be alone.
You look at Ecclesiastes, where you see two are better than one and three are even better. If one falls, there's someone to pick them up. You see when Jesus starts talking about the body and how it all functions together, we need each part of the body. A kingdom divided against itself cannot prevail, and a house divided against itself isn't going to stand. It's so clear that God is a God of a relationship, community and togetherness. And so, I thought I want to fan that flame. If I can write a song, if there's a little bit of light shining here, maybe a song can kick the door open just a little bit more. Maybe it could let a little more of that light come through and we can all be reminded of what is true, that we really are in this together.
Several notable artists took part in this song … Brad Paisley, Lauren Alaina, and Tasha Cobbs Leonard. Why did you select these folks to participate?
After I wrote the song I thought, maybe I need to try to get some other people to do this with me.
I knew this was going to be kind of tricky because we're all isolated, quarantined, social distanced and all of that stuff. But I thought technology might afford me the opportunity to do something together. So, I called a few friends, in fact, people that I had not worked with before. Brad Paisley was a guy that I had met on a couple of occasions. I'm a big fan of his playing and singing. He's just a great storyteller. He's amazing guitar player as well as a great singer. And of course, he hosts the Country Music Awards and all of these things. Brad and I aren’t like friends and buddies. We haven’t hung out together. We ended up in a dressing room together a couple of years ago at a Glen Campbell tribute concert where I was honored to be invited to remember the great talent of Glen Campbell, who was one of my heroes musically growing up.
(My initial though was) he's way too busy. He's probably got way too much going on, but who knows? Someday, we might get to do something. I didn't have his number or any information. I reached out to a mutual friend and said, this is a crazy long shot. He's probably doing a thousand things. Everybody's getting these requests to do this or that right now.
But I'd love to just at least invite him to be a part of this song. So, I sent an email but didn't hear anything for about three days. I thought, Brad's probably got a lot going on and it's not the time. So, I'll let it go. My wife said, ‘Why don't you text him? You’ve got his phone number.’ I even told her, that's kind of next level. Texting makes it harder to politely say no, I'm just not interested. I don't want to put him in a spot. But she kind of convinced me to go ahead and at least send a text.
And as soon as I sent the text, I saw the little bubbles pop up and I thought, Brad Paisley's answering my text message! This is cool. His answer was, ‘Man, did you not see my email? It must not have made it through to you. I got your email. I'd love to join you on the song. I'd be thrilled. Let's do it.’ So, I did a little happy dance in the kitchen. This is going to be cool! Brad put his parts on there in his studio and sent them over and said, ‘Here's what I’ve got. Use whatever you want.’ He's been so gracious in the process. We've had some great conversations about (togetherness). It's like let's bring our audiences and our genres together, from country music and my place in Christian music.
And then I kept thinking can we get someone in the gospel music world? Tasha Cobbs Leonard is one of the greats in that world right now. I reached out to her and experienced the same thing. She said, ‘Are you kidding? I would be thrilled. I would love it.’ Then we had conversations about who would be another good female artist from the country music or pop music world. And Lauren Alaina, who I had watched on her American Idol journey … I remember watching her be vocal about her faith and I appreciated that so much about her. We reached out and same story. She's said, ‘I grew up on your music. My family will be freaking out that I'm doing a song with Steven Curtis Chapman.’ That was really cool to hear those stories and just see how we're all kind of connected in that way. And I thought it would be really special to kind of bring our genres together around a song like this. It's been really special.
Under the circumstances, this never could have been done even 10 years ago. But because of where technology is right now, it gave you the benefit and the flexibility to put this together. Obviously, this is a benefit song. The net proceeds will go to help the Opry Trust Fund and also the Gospel Music Association to help people who have been impacted by COVID-19. What can you tell me about the work that these organizations are doing in light of the coronavirus pandemic?
The Gospel Music Association started a fund several years ago. It was really the work of Bill Gaither, who kind of spearheaded that. And I was a part of the beginnings of that with Bill and many other artists and just saying this is an important thing. The GMA has a fund that has been caring for artists that find themselves on hard times. These are people who need support and have given the world some beautiful art. They have made the world a better place with their music but find themselves later in life not being able to put food on the table.
It has happened to many, many artists. You immediately think of the artists that you know. It makes you think, gosh, how could they ever really be in desperate times? But there's so many artists that have written and given the world some amazing music that find themselves really struggling.
It’s the same thing with the Opry Trust Fund. The Grand Ole Opry has done an amazing job of caring for their artists for many years in country music. The Opry has created this trust fund to assist those artists that are in this time going, ‘I'm trying to feed my family. I've got some medical issues and need some help.’ In these streaming days, unless God has some amazing plans for this song, that it gets streamed millions and millions of times, there could be some substantial resources generated from that. And so, we just wanted to have a mechanism in place that, if that is possible, we want to use this song to help support some people that need it.
Where can people get/purchase the single, “Together (We’ll Get Through This)”?
It released to radio this week. And then, this Friday (May 1st), the song is going to be released to all streaming outlets, all the places where you can get music from … places like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes. I would love it if people feel compelled to maybe not just stream it and listen to it, but to purchase it for 99 cents. That would be awesome. But help spread the word. If it's a song that feels important enough for you to do that, that would be a great blessing, certainly to me and those of us that did the song, but hopefully even beyond that.
After people have listened to “Together (We’ll Get Through This)”, what would you like audiences to take away from the listening experience? What is your greatest hope for the song?
My hope in writing this song was to fan the flame of what I believe is the ultimate truth of we were made for relationship. Not to go super deep and heavy but there is an enemy. We're not the enemy with each other. We are in this together as human beings, as mankind. But there is an enemy who hates everything that is God's plan and beauty. My hope is that this song can help us remember that we were made for relationship, that we do need each other. I've even thought that every time somebody hears this song, they could text somebody, call somebody, and let them know they are not alone today. We need to recognize how much we need each other.
Watch a lyric video for Steven Curtis Chapman's latest release, "Together (We'll Get Through This):
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