Deborah Evans Price is a veteran writer who has covered country, gospel, and rock music for Billboard magazine since 1994. For a more complete bio, you can read Deborah’s previous feature at DivineDetour here.
For the Country Faith project, Deborah talked to many of Nashville’s top country music stars. She grabbed quick conversations backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, or chatted while riding around town in a pickup truck. But no matter where she asked it, the question was always the same: What passage from the Bible is the most meaningful to you—and why? The answers, as it turns out, are as varied as the entertainers she interviewed.
Please tell us about Country Faith: 56 Reflections from Today’s Leading Country Music Stars (November 2013, Zondervan) and how you became involved with the project.
I’ll never forget when I first heard about Country Faith. I was at Night of Joy, Disney World’s annual Christian music festival, when I got a call from my literary agent. He described the project to me and told me if I was interested he could get me a meeting with the publisher the next week. I loved the idea of talking to country recording artists about their favorite scripture and really wanted to do the project.
My agent set up a breakfast meeting with Bob DeMoss, Associate Publisher/Acquisitions Editor at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Country Faith was Bob’s idea and was inspired by his desire to put scripture into the hearts of more people. We had a great meeting and soon after I was offered a contract and began working on Country Faith. I will always be grateful that I was able to do this book and my prayer is that it will make an eternal difference in the lives of those that read it.
How did you go about compiling the stories? Were there any “unusual” situations when you found yourself scrambling for a pen and paper to jot down quotes?
Once I signed the deal in September, I immediately began setting up interviews and making people aware of the book. Bob had already gotten the entry from Alan Jackson so it was helpful to have a sample to show artists what we were looking for in Country Faith.
I gave people the option to write their own entry or they could do an interview and I’d write it for them. Most opted to do an interview, but several such as Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, and Rodney Atkins chose to write their own.
There was never a situation where I was scrambling to write something down because I was hunting people down to get quotes and I always had a tape recorder ready. I got some interviews on the red carpet at awards shows and I took advantage of any conversation with an artist to ask them if they’d participate in the book. Whenever I was doing an interview, I’d ask them about their favorite scripture to include in Country Faith. Christian artists have continuous opportunities to share their faith, but country artists don’t always have that platform and I think they really appreciated having an opportunity to share what their faith means to them.
There’s a “bonus” section at the end of the book. Please tell us about that and what inspired it.
I can’t take credit for that. I think it was Bob’s idea to end the book with the Book of Mark. What a great idea!
Were there any “divine detours” shared among the celebrity reflections?
That’s a good question. Jason Crabb’s favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. He shared about how his family was called into music ministry and their trust in God helped them find their way. He also shared that through many ups and downs, he and his wife, Shellye, have leaned on that verse and trusted God to direct their paths. Jason is one of my favorite people and whether I’m watching him in concert or interviewing him for a story, I always feel like I learn from him. He’s such an incredible man of God.
God often uses our work to teach us something. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of compiling this book? What’s your favorite Bible verse?
I think it helped remind me to lean on God more instead of trying to control everything myself. One of my favorite entries is Rodney Atkins talking about Matthew 20: 32-34.
Rodney encourages people to pray big, bold prayers. He says: “God responds to big, bold prayers in a big, bold way. Ask for the faith, the vision, the guidance. Pray beyond your dreams. Pray for God to take it to the supernatural. I believe we should pray for others this way. God doesn’t ask for our prayers to be logical and practical. He says just have faith.” I love what Rodney said and found it very encouraging.
As for my favorite scripture, it’s hard to pick just one, but I really love Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. On a stressful day, there’s nothing more comforting than remembering that Jesus is there to lean on and can help us accomplish anything!
A percentage of the sales of the book will benefit a charity. Please tell us about that.
I’m so happy to say that a portion of proceeds from Country Faith will benefit Sophia’s Heart, a wonderful foundation that American Idol album Danny Gokey founded in memory of his first wife Sophia, who died having heart surgery. Sophia’s Heart is a wonderful organization and Danny and the good folks there are doing amazing things. It’s exciting that Country Faith can play a part in helping such a great cause.
Thanks, Deborah! It’s nice to have you back at DivineDetour.
Thank you Kathy! God Bless You!
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For more information about Country Faith, visit the Zondervan website.
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