Grammy-winning country artist Travis Tritt says his latest release, a gospel album, has been “30 years in the making.”
His mother always wanted him to make a gospel record, he says, yet he faced resistance from record executives who told him to continue churning out mainstream hits, not church tunes.
“I constantly met with resistance,” he said.
Now, more than three decades after his first number-one song, Tritt’s mother can finally enjoy what she envisioned.
Tritt’s first gospel album, Country Chapel, will be released on Sept. 15 by Gaither Music Group. Capitol Christian Music and Universal Music are distributing it.
It’s a combination of original and traditional songs. It’s also a reflection of his own personal Christian faith.
“I am probably the perfect example of the prodigal son,” Tritt told Christian Headlines. “I spent a lot of time growing up in church. And then when I got in my late teens, early 20s, I spent a considerable period of that time sort of running away from all of those things.”
Tritt is one of the most popular singers in country music history, having earned five number-one songs and 19 top ten songs on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. His first hit single, Help Me Hold On, stayed at No. 1 for 26 weeks in 1990. All total, he has sung 47 songs that made the chart.
“I never denied it,” Tritt says of his faith.
“It kind of reminds me of the Scripture in the Bible where it says, ‘Bring your children up in the way of the Lord and when they're old, they will not depart from it.’ And I'm a perfect example of that. Even though I spent a lot of time, wasted a lot of time, sort of running away from it, God always has a way of sort of bringing you back in. … That's what Christ wants, He wants us to get closer to Him, not farther away.”
The album includes well-known tunes such as Uncloudy Day, In the Valley (He Restoreth My Soul) and The Baptism Of Jesse Taylor, but also several original songs. Mama Used To Pray For Me references the times his mother would pray for him as he sang in biker bars and other rough locations.
“I put myself in a lot of very dangerous situations back in those days, and that went all the way up through after getting signed to a record deal,” Tritt told Christian Headlines. “And almost without fail, every single time that I would find myself in one of those dangerous situations, life-threatening situations, I would talk to my mother, or her dad, my grandfather … [and] they would say, ‘You know, a couple of nights ago, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, I woke up with just a very strong feeling that I should pray for you, because you were in danger.’ And that was always exactly at the time that those things were taking place.”
Another original, Like The Father Loves His Son, was written by Tritt as a teenager. Tritt credits his mother for his own faith.
“She absolutely made sure that I was in church, basically, every time the doors were open,” Tritt told Christian Headlines. “And if it hadn't been for her, I probably would have never found Christ, and would have never had the opportunity to learn about Christ's teachings and the Bible.”
Tritt hopes the album influences country fans who can identify with his past and with those “who may be feeling a little bit lost or people that have known Christ or have had religious experiences in their past, but they may have gotten away from it.”
“This is an opportunity to use this music, to inspire people, number one, and also for those that have known Him, to bring them back into the fold, bring them a little bit closer,” he said, “And for those that have never known Christ, perhaps [it can] put a little bit of a question mark in their mind that maybe ‘This is what I've been looking for.’ And if that only happens to one person, then this album has done its job.”
Photo courtesy: ©David Abbott, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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