*Part Two of a two-part interview with David Phelps—to read Part 1, please CLICK HERE

David Phelps intervier, CCM MagazineCCM: Your publicist let me know you are not ready yet to interview about your late sister, Sherri, who died of cancer in 2012, and her impact on your life. But in relating to folks in their own stages of grief and heartache, especially in the context of faith, can you express where your head and heart have been— emotionally, mentally, spiritually—over the past couple of years and how that is reflected on Freedom? 

David Phelps: My family and I are still working through this. [Pause] This is still a little foggy for all of us. What has been made clear is that faith is a choice. It’s not bestowed. It’s not gleaned or inherited or transferred. It’s not a permanent fixture, and it’s not to be taken for granted. It can slip away and leave you wondering what once filled the hole that it left behind. It is a choice at every turn in the midst of supreme joy or devastating sadness. As an artist, a husband, a father and a son, I find myself trying to fixate on Jesus instead of all the unanswered questions that can send me spiraling downward.

CCM: I hear that your daughter, Maggie Beth, exhibits her own musical prowess and desire to pursue music as her profession. As a father, how do you feel about your children wanting to make their bread and butter from music?

DP: One day I was walking past the bottom of our stairs, and I heard this amazing voice coming from her room. I turned to Lori and said, “What is going on up there? It sounds like Sandi Patty and Kristin Chenoweth are fighting over a ball gown.” Not too long after that, with no promises, I took her into the studio to record a duet on which I was working. Needless to say, she blew me away. 

Maggie Beth was supposed to be our veterinarian. I’m still bitter about that. [Laughs] She loved animals. Then one day it was all Broadway and high C’s! To be fair, and unashamedly proud, all of my kids are very musically talented. As with many of my artist friends, music is as plentiful as air around our house. They have been immersed in it their entire lives. Looking back, I guess fostering a veterinarian was a pipe dream.  

CCM: As a music industry veteran, what advice and encouragement do you give her to succeed as a new-generation artist?

For now, her top priority is to sing and perform as often as possible while keeping her grades up. I’m a strong believer in education and that critical thinking is essential to the interpretation of skills of an artist. I get a lot of rolled-eyes at that one, just like I rolled my eyes at my parents, but I wouldn’t trade my time in training for anything at this point.

CCM: Speaking of singing like Sandi, you covered her beloved signature song, “We Shall Behold Him” for this record. What motivated you to take on Sandi? [Laughs]

Wow. If you only knew the handwringing I did over this one. I grew up listening to Sandi over and over again. She is one of the most iconic, masterful, kind-hearted, “chill-bump’stresses” to ever hold a microphone. “Take her on?” I think not.

I first did a demo version of this song years ago after the song’s writer, Dottie Rambo, contacted me to pitch some songs to record. I know…crazy! I hadn’t considered the song for this project until Bill Gaither brought it up. I let him hear the demo and he loved it. I was still quite reserved. Even while standing next to the piano in the studio with Gordon Mote and all the musicians charting the arrangement, I nervously said, “Should I be doing this?” I realize now I felt that way not only because of the incomparable Sandi Patty, but because for me this is a sacred song. It’s what helps all of our struggles make sense—He’s coming back to get us.

*Part Two of a two-part interview with David Phelps—to read Part 1, please CLICK HERE

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About The Author


Andrew Greer is a multiple Dove Award-nominated singer/songwriter, respected author, and co-creator of the innovative Hymns for Hunger tour with Cindy Morgan, raising awareness and resources for hunger relief organizations in hundreds of cities across the country. On tour, Andrew has shared the stage with folks like Amy Grant, Brandon Heath and Andrew Peterson. His songs have been recorded by artists like Jaci Velasquez, Seth & Nirva and Nic Gonzales (of Salvador). And his first book – Transcending Mysteries – co-authored with Ginny Owens, was published by Thomas Nelson in 2015. Andrew is also host of CCM Magazine’s “Features on Film” series, featuring one-on-one conversations with some of music’s biggest artists. For more information visit: andrew-greer.com or hymnsforhunger.com.

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