Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin bring the "All Things New" tour to Louisville Gardens December 5. I talked with Chris recently about the upcoming show and asked him about being here in Louisville earlier in the fall for the release of his CD, Arriving.

Louisville Music News: Tell me a little about playing at Southeast Christian Church. You and I have talked about that before-it's always a special event when you can do (that). Tell me about the event on September 19, how did that go?

Chris Tomlin: It was amazing. I love those guys there at Southeast. They've always been so good to us. I remember it was not too long ago, a little over a year, they brought us in for the first time. I was just blown away by just the spirit of the leadership. [It was] really just about the right things and wanting to minister to people. The people who were coming that night were just so ready to go for it. I remember going back and telling Louie (Giglio, minister who has traveled with Chris as part of the popular "Passion" events), man we've got to do a "Passion" there-and we did. When we were trying to release our CD (Arriving) and thinking about where we wanted to go play, (Southeast) was the first one that popped up.

LMN: You're new CD is called Arriving and congratulations on your very recent and first #1 song on the Radio and Records adult contemporary Christian chart, "Indescribable"!

CT: We cannot believe it. It's really cool having a #1 song and you know, it's thrilling for us. It's kind of a new area for us.

LMN: Yeah. Well it's interesting and a lot of people may not know that you've written so many of the songs that are sung in churches. "Indescribable" is your first radio hit, but you've written a lot of songs, including some of the ones on those million-selling Michael W. Smith Worship CDs. It must be amazing to think that you have written so many of the songs that are being sung on Sunday morning at churches everywhere.

CT: Yeah, I can't figure that out (laughs). It's beyond me-the Lord with his grace and favor has done it. I know it's not any plan of mine, not any publishing or marketing plan, I can promise you that. It doesn't happen that way. It's just God's favor and I am honored by it and hopefully carry it well.

LMN: I heard you on a radio show talking about writing and you mentioned that your song "Forever" took several years to finish. Is that right?

CT: Yeah, it's pretty sad. It took me four years to finish it. I wasn't working on it everyday for four years - that would be really sad! I would be in the insane asylum. But I just kept coming back to it-I knew it wasn't right. I knew the song was special, I knew I just hadn't figured it out yet. It just took me a while. Some songs come that that and some songs come really quickly. One of the new songs on the record called "How Great is our God" I feel is one of the strongest songs we've ever been a part of and it just came really quickly. I like it when that happens.

LMN: Let's talk about the tour. Someone who saw it recently in Seattle told me it's phenomenal. Tell me a little bit about the tour.

CT: Yeah it's great having Casting Crowns and Steven Curtis. Being on tour with those guys is amazing. Everybody has a really amazing heart for ministry. There's no ego and that's just a beautiful thing. I love being around the people. You know, sometimes you get on a tour and don't really gel with all the people, but [this tour] is just like a big family. We just have a blast together and a blast playing together. The show is very seamless, Steven plays with Casting Crowns and he comes out and does a song with us. He does some things in between sets. It's just a really unique way to approach a tour. From emails I've gotten, people are like "I've been to a lot of concerts and this is one of the best I've ever been to." That means a lot, because I feel like people are leaving encouraged and inspired and not just coming to see a show.

LMN: Since you're an opening artist on this tour, how do decide which songs to play in a shorter set?

CT: We do a lot off our new record, we want people to hear songs off of it. I think a lot of people know our older songs. We want to let them experience some of these new songs. You only get one shot with these people...and we want to give them a good taste of some of the new stuff. We do (older songs like) "Forever," but for most part it new stuff. That's one of the most beautiful things, is playing new songs. It's always scary because you don't have that instant connection that a familiar song gives you.

LMN: Michael W. Smith covers your songs...you're on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman and Casting Crowns...you are doing what a lot of people only dream about!

CT: Yeah...yeah. (pauses) I'm honored by God, it's his path. It wasn't my plan. I'm just trying to stay focused on that. It's a blessing.

This concert also marks the Louisville live debut of Casting Crowns. "Voice of Truth," the third radio single from the group recently went to No. 1 on R&R's Christian AC Monitored chart. This marks the band's third consecutive No. 1 single from its self-titled debut album, which reached RIAA-certified gold status earlier this year.

Co-penned by Casting Crowns' Mark Hall and fellow artist/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, "Voice of Truth," is the band's third multi-format single to top Christian radio charts. Smash hits "If We Are the Body" and "Who Am I" both topped the charts of multiple radio formats earlier this year.

"It's really exciting for us to see our songs impacting people across the country, not just at our live shows, but at radio and retail," says Hall. "This has been an incredible year for us and we are so grateful that God is using our ministry to further his purpose."

Casting Crown's newest release, the DVD/CD project Live From Atlanta, hit retail on September 14 and was recently certified platinum by the RIAA based on its overwhelming ship numbers.

Tickets are still available for the All Things New Tour at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Steven's last tour was the best Christian music show I'd ever seen. I doubt this one can top it-but I've heard it's amazing. Buy a ticket-you won't be disappointed. Hope to see you there! I'll have a review in next month's LMN.