I have always liked Gary Chapman. First, as an artist, singer, songwriter, performer. Second as a person. I don’t know him well, only have spent time with him on a handful of occasions, at Christian radio events, a few in studio interviews. I did get an invite to travel to his home in Nashville for the Super Bowl one year, but had to turn it down. It’s probably been 15 years since I last had any contact with him.
Gary has always been a talented, even insightful songwriter. He started out as a solo artist with his first album “Sincerely Yours” released in 1981. Two years earlier Amy Grant recorded a song Gary had written, “My Father’s Eyes.” Gary and Amy married in June 1982. The marriage lasted for almost 17 years. Amy filed for divorce in March 1999 and the divorce was finalized in June 1999.
The official reason for the split was “irreconcilable differences.” There were rumors, but nothing substantiated to the degree that I feel comfortable repeating them here. The couple had three children. In March 2000 Amy married Vince Gill and then in June 2000 Gary also remarried, to Jennifer Pittman, an animal trainer who had worked at Universal Studios. They met when Gary was hosting Prime Time Country on The Nashville Network and the show was on location there.
Gary and Jennifer divorced in 2007. Then in December 2008 Gary married Cassie Piersol. Gary and Cassie are still married and adopted an infant daughter in 2014.
Somehow, with all of the marital intrigue, Gary managed to keep writing and recording. Not counting best of collections, collaborations on multi-artist projects and Christmas albums Gary has released eight albums. There was more than 10 years between his two most recent projects and he hasn’t released anything since 2013.
His third studio album, “Everyday Man,” was released in 1987 and included the radio hit “Your Love Stays With Me.” There was seven years, most of that time spent writing and touring with his then wife Amy Grant, before his next album, “The Light Inside” came out in 1994. It included the hits “Sweet Glow of Mercy” and “Sweet Jesus.” In 1996 “Shelter” came out with the radio hit “A Man After Your Own Heart.”
Gary is a PK, a preacher’s kid, and he credits his parents with a strong influence on his faith and love of music. His mom passed away the day after Christmas 2002. He father battled Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma for years. He spent his last few years living in Gary’s home, where he passed on April 12, 2009, Easter Sunday at sunrise.
To honor his parents and their love of the hymns Gary started a You Tube project, A Hymn a Week, in 2010. Gary would tell some of the story behind a favorite hymn and then perform it, usually solo accompanying himself on guitar. The channel has over 150 videos, the most recent from September 2013.
Gary will turn 60 on August 19, 2017. Happy Birthday old friend.
Here’s the concept video for “Sweet Glow of Mercy,” from the 1994 album “The Light Inside.”
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