Grammy ® and Dove Award-nominated Christian music composer, worship leader, and recording artist Morris Chapman died on May 2, 2020, in Las Vegas after a prostate cancer battle. His songs have been recorded by a who’s who of Christian music such as Sandi Patty, Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Bill & Gloria Gaither, and football legend, Rosey Grier. As a recording artist, he’s best-known for the songs “I Know the Plans” and “Bethlehem Morning.”
“On behalf of the Gospel Music Association and the Board of Directors and officers, I want to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Morris Chapman,” says Jackie Patillo, President and Executive Director of the Nashville-based Gospel Music Association. “Morris Chapman will always be a part of the tapestry of Christian and Gospel music. He was a true worshipper who set the atmosphere with his gentle authority and led us to the throne of grace with his songs. He will be missed but never forgotten.”
In 1978, Morris Chapman released his first solo LP, “Jesus, I Put All My Trust in You.” From the start, he crafted a middle of the road sound that bridged the divide that often separated churches among racial lines. Soon, he signed to Word Records where he released five albums – including “Longtime Friends” which earned him a 1983 Grammy® Award nomination for Best Soul Gospel Performance. During that period, he became known for songs such as “I May Not Always Be There,” “Be Bold, Be Strong” and “Since God is For You,” a Top 15 Contemporary Christian radio hit.
Over the years. Chapman’s calming, fatherly presence earned him the nickname of Papa Morris among his peers and the subsequent generations of singers he encountered. “I’ve been involved in the Christian music world for “over 45 years now and have known and worked with just about every artist during that time,” says Joe Battaglia of Renaissance Communications. “Some were amazingly talented, some were unfortunately self-destructive, some were gifted like few artists I’ve ever known, mainstream or Christian. And some, like Morris Chapman, had a persevering grace and humility to go along with their talent and giftedness. They knew whose they were, and what was the essence of their message. Morris was one of those artists. A gentleman, a communicator, a lover of Christ. Rest in peace, Morris.”
Chapman’s last album, Gospel Praise (Maranatha) was released in 2011 and his autobiography, I Know the Plans, was published by Cool River Books in 2013. His wife, Shirley Rayford Chapman, died in 2014. He is survived by five adult children (Kevin, Karen, Kenneth, Kristen, and Kimberly), several grandchildren and other extended families.
Photos Courtesy of the GMA Foundation, Nashville, TN.
Press Excerpt: Bill Carpenter