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Steven Curtis Chapman staying strong through songs, stories

Informed by a quarter-century of touring, five-time Grammy winner Steven Curtis Chapman defines America's cities by his food cravings. When Chapman's bus stops in Chicago, he goes for gooey cheese pizza. In Tampa Bay, it's fresh seafood.

Life on the road may get monotonous, Chapman told tbt*, but he appreciates every sleep-deprived moment. Since losing his 5-year-old daughter in a tragic accident in 2008, the singer-songwriter has fought to reshape his life and career. Only recently, he said, has the day-to-day begun to sink in again.

In August, Chapman released his 17th album, re:creation, which features five new tracks and eight of the artist's greatest contemporary Christian hits reimagined to reflect his personal journey.

"That's the amazing thing about a song," Chapman said. "They are like a living breathing thing and their meaning can change with time."

Chapman will open up about faith, family and loss when his Songs & Stories Tour stops Friday at Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater. .

How is the tour going?

Good. I'm out on the road for three to four days a time, then home for a few days. I'm missing my little girl's basketball tournament, but I'm going to make it to her gymnastics meet.

What's the family up to while you are away?

Well, my oldest daughter Emily just gave us our first grandbaby in November, and my two sons are out doing music touring on their own now. I miss them, but I am really proud of them all.

After all these years, what keeps you excited about performing live?

Whenever I take a step back and look at what I get to do, when I look out at the crowd, it doesn't matter if I've sung a song a thousand times, that's never going to get old.

How difficult was it choosing songs to recreate for your latest album?

It was no small task. It seemed like a good idea and then I thought how I am going to pick from all these songs. I had to tell myself it's just Vol. 1 and I asked other people to weigh in on it. I went with some songs that I felt were the most prominent mile markers along my journey.

Many of the songs sound drastically different. Why?

After what my family walked through losing Maria, a lot of my songs have taken on a deeper meaning. There's a lyric in one of the songs, I know that the grave is not the end, I understood it in a totally different way when I stood at the grave site of my own daughter.

Were you worried about how fans would react to the changes?

I did get nervous. Like with Dive, I actually changed the name to Dive Deeper because I thought people would hear it and think, "What in the world happened to Dive?"

Why tell the stories behind the songs on this tour?

I've wanted to do a tour like this for a long time. They have these songwriter nights in Nashville at the Bluebird Cafe. Songwriters get together and just sit around talking about their process. I thought it would be very cool to do something like that on tour.

Steven Curtis Chapman

The Christian singer performs with Josh Wilson and Andrew Peterson at 7 p.m. Friday at Countryside Christian Center, 1850 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $25. (866) 440-7880.

Steven Curtis Chapman staying strong through songs, stories 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 3:30am]

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