Steven Curtis Chapman is to contemporary Christian music what Muhammad Ali was to boxing: The Greatest.
From humble beginnings in Paducah, Ky., the struggling songwriter found faith after an apartment fire left him and his wife homeless. Shortly thereafter he landed a record deal and recorded his first album, “First Hand,” in 1987 … which failed to chart.
A year later an undeterred Chapman recorded his next record, “Real Life Conversations,” which found its way into the Contemporary Christian Top 20. The singer’s fourth disc, “For the Sake of the Call” (1991), began a streak of five straight No. 1 Christian albums, and many of the discs also crossed over onto the Billboard Top 200 album chart.
Chapman won the first of his five Grammy awards for best pop/contemporary gospel album in 1991 for “For the Sake of the Call,” and his astonishing 51 Gospel Music Association Award wins are the most by any artist.
Chapman, long an advocate for adoption — he and his wife have three biological children and three adopted daughters — has co-written three children’s books touching on the theme of adoption, and has also written two inspirational books for adults. The singer has recently toured with his sons’ band, The Following, as his backing group, and Chapman’s latest disc, “This Moment,” was released Tuesday.
Steven Curtis Chapman performs 7:30 Friday, Oct. 26 at Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix. $20-$35. (602) 267-1600 or celebritytheatre.com