Born in Waurika, Oklahoma, Chapman is the son of an Assemblies of God pastor, Terry Chapman. He grew up in De Leon, Texas.
Chapman performed in bands throughout high school and college. After going to Bible college at what is now Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee and was hired as guitar player for The Rambos. In 1979, his song «Father’s Eyes» was recorded as the title track to Amy Grant’s Grammy-nominated second album My Father’s Eyes. In 1982, his song «Finally» recorded by T. G. Sheppard reached No. 1 on the country music charts. He also received a Dove Award as Songwriter of the Year from the Gospel Music Association in 1981.
During the rest of the 1980s and the early 1990s, Chapman continued to write, record, and produce music, while touring as an opening act for various artists. He sang «Brave Hearts» in 1987 for the Touchstone Pictures film Ernest Goes to Camp.
He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album in 1994. The Light Inside also resulted in a Dove Award nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year. It also yielded a contemporary Christian music chart No. 1 song, «Sweet Glow of Mercy.» He won a second Dove Award in 1994 for co-producing the album, Songs from the Loft, featuring various artists
In April 1996, Chapman won Male Vocalist of the Year at the GMA Dove Award] His 1996 album, Shelter, delivered another No. 1, «One of Two», with «Man After Your Own Heart» resulting in a Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year and featuring on the Dove award winning Special Event Album of the Year, My Utmost for His Highest. Shelter also received a 1997 Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album] At the 1998 Dove Awards, his album also featuring other artists, Hymns From The Ryman, won Country Album of the Year
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