Each time Brandon Heath takes the stage on the Songs and Stories tour, he is met with a sense of awe. He looks across the stage and there are his tour mates – Steven Curtis Chapman and Mac Powell – and they are playing his songs.
“It’s chill bumps on a nightly basis,” Heath says on a phone call in advance of the tour’s stop Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Fresno’s Cornerstone Church.
Chapman is arguably one of the most awarded artists in contemporary Christian music. Over three decades, the songwriter has won 58 Dove Awards (and five Grammys), though technically, he didn’t release a worship album until just this year. Mac Powell is a founding member of the popular Christian band Third Day, who in recent years has taken to country, releasing a pair of solo albums (Mac Powell and Southpaw) and writing songs with Travis Tritt, Darius Rucker and The Band Perry.
Both Powell and Chapman released albums that were instrumental in Heath’s formative years. He remembers being a sound engineer at a Young Life youth camp in the late 1990s and having both artists playing on regular rotation during the camp’s various programs.
Whether he would admit it, Heath has established himself as one of the bunch. In just over a decade, the Nashville musician has earned six Dove Awards of his own – including male vocalist of the year in 2009 and 2010. He was the best new artist in 2008.
The tour, which is playing mostly at church venues in 20 cities, is a showcase for all three artists. The show typically runs 2 1/2 hours and has the musicians joining each other on stage to sing songs and tell stories. People want to hear those stories, Heath says. The show is collaborative and spur of the moment.
“I think it’s evangelical in a way,” he says.
The tour follows a quick summer respite for Heath. The singer spent two weeks at a Young Life camp in British Columbia. It’s the same camp he worked at during the 1990s and where he first found Jesus in 1995.
“It’s a special place for me,” he says. He goes to the camp at least once a year, strictly as a volunteer, though he usually ends up getting asked to play some.
The Songs and Stories tour runs through Oct. 16, after which Heath will return to the studio to start work on his seventh release. Dan Muckala will produce.
Songs and Stories tour
with Steven Curtis Chapman, Mac Powell, Brandon Heath
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5
- Cornerstone Church at Wilson Theatre, 1455 Fulton St.
- 800-965-9324, www.awakeningevents.com