The backing soundtrack to Steven Curtis Chapman’s childhood was bluegrass music. Some of his earliest memories are of watching live bluegrass with his dad on guitar and a couple of his dad’s best friends on the dobro and banjo. (Dobro player Jack Curtis Martin is Chapman’s namesake). When he was still a toddler, Chapman’s family opened a music store in their hometown of Paducah, Kentucky. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Chapman developed a love for songs and playing the guitar. “I learned to play all the instruments in my dad’s shop at least well enough to sell one,” Chapman recalls. “I’d play “Cripple Creek” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” to show people what the instruments sounded like.” Those early days surrounded by music were enough to not only pique the interest of a little boy, but to develop a celebrated career that’s impacted people around the world for more than thirty years.
Deeper Roots, the newest project from Steven Curtis Chapman, harkens back to those younger days playing bluegrass tunes for music store customers. It’s a well-crafted collection of songs highlighting Chapman’s lifelong love for bluegrass and includes songs like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “How Great Thou Art,” ”Victory In Jesus,” and fan favorites “Cinderella” and “Dive (featuring Ricky Skaggs)” which has transformed into a frenetic, joy-filled bluegrass breakdown. Another stand-out track is “’Til the Blue (featuring Gary LeVox ),” a signature Chapman soul-filled tearjerker. Woven throughout the project is the faith-filled message fans have come to expect from Chapman, a lifetime love for Jesus standing front and center. Deeper Roots is also packed with guest appearances from family members and fellow musicians who hold a special place for Chapman including Ricky Skaggs, Gary LeVox (Rascal Flatts), Herb Chapman Sr., Herb Chapman Jr., Caleb Chapman and Jillian Edwards Chapman.
“Ricky Skaggs is a childhood hero of mine,” Chapman shares. “He really brought bluegrass into the mainstream and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year. I never imagined I’d someday get to have him sing on one of my songs.”
While hints of bluegrass have always shown up in Chapman’s music, his goal with Deeper Roots is to more fully engage people in a genre of music they may not expect from him. “It’s a different landscape than it ever has been. Bluegrass elements are much more accessible now. These songs are an opportunity for people to hear that sound, for it to stir something in their soul.”
The last track on the record, “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” is an appropriate close for the album. “My Dad sang it as his mom’s funeral and I wanted so much to capture that moment,” Chapman shares. “Dad will turn 80 this year, so it’s really special to have him singing that song to close out the album.” Herb Chapman Sr.’s rich vocals and sincere delivery are an apt summary of the spirit of Deeper Roots as he sings – I’d rather have Jesus / Than men’s applause / I’d rather be faithful / to His dear cause / I’d rather have Jesus / Than worldwide fame / I’d rather be true to His holy name.
Laced with family history, incredible musicianship and moments of soul-searching as well as abundant joy, Deeper Roots hits the right note for longtime fans and those discovering Chapman’s music for the first time.