Granger Smith Shares How Tragedy Impacted His Decision To Choose Faith Over Fame

Smith truly believes this is what he is called to do.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 19, 2023


2:15 pm

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Photo Courtesy Granger Smith

Granger Smith is opening up about his decision to leave country music and pursue a career in ministry. 

During an interview on Sunday Night In America with Fox News host Trey Gowdy, the 43-year-old “Backroad Song” singer further explained why he felt compelled to trade in his microphone for life at the local church. 

Trading Fame For Faith

When asked why he is choosing to give up his career in country music, Smith quoted, “’What is it worth a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul?’” 

“I would say that would be my response from Mark: 8 in the Bible,” he added. 

YouTube video

He went on to put it simply as he stated, “To be totally honest with you, I appreciate you covering this, but even when you said it like that it just sounds like a not very exciting news story. It’s a story of a guy, you know, had what I always dreamed of having, and I’m turning it back over. I’m turning it back in for a life at the local church. But I believe that that’s what I’m called to do.”

How The Death Of His Son Changed His Relationship With God

During the interview, the Texas native recalled the untimely and tragic death of his son, River, and how that experience impacted his relationship with God.    

“I cannot take credit myself for the radical transformation that the Lord did in my life through this tragedy,” he said. “Sometimes when that soil is cultivated and we have to dig deep and we can’t find it within ourselves the Lord comes in and shows himself in a very profound way in a way that I cannot take any credit for. Now that this gift was given to me in a time that is the darker tragedy of our life. Now I have a purpose to go out and share this message of what happen to me for other people that are probably going through the same thing.”

Granger Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Granger Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

A Big Decision

The decision to change career paths was one Smith grappled with for quite some time. He’s now at peace with his choice. 

“I’ve debated on that in my own head and it’s like you got this stage why not just travel the world and sing country music and be a light in a dark place and people come and pile in these venues and you can talk about Jesus and you can talk about your faith and sing a few hymns. Isn’t that the better choice. What I could not reconcile with is when Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and walk with me and follow me.’ That self-denial is something I struggle with in country music.”

Rather than seek praise from fans, Smith hopes to use his voice to glorify God. 

“Instead, every night I get on stage, seeking glory, and applause. Seeking people to exalt me, and that is not what we’re called to do as followers. I could not reconcile those two things together. I think God looks at us and says ‘don’t tell me how I get my glory.’ It’s so easy for us to go ‘I know how I’m going to glorify God, my way, and I’ll also be rich and famous at the same time.’” 

Granger Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Granger Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Smith went on to say that he’s making this decision for himself and is not pressuring anyone else in the entertainment industry to do the same.

“It’s important to say to that I’m not talking to anyone else that might be in entertainment or in music, I’m not saying what anyone else should do. This is something that I struggled with internally because I struggled with exalting myself and seeking that praise and that’s something I needed to strip through sanctification away from me.”

What Does The Future Hold?

The Yee Yee Apparel owner is excited to see what the future holds for him.

“I am so encouraged and hopeful and excited and joyful about the next chapter, but to a large extent, I have no idea what it will look like,” Smith admitted to the Fox News host. “Lord willing, I want to be used to help people find their purpose.”

Photo Courtesy Granger Smith
Photo Courtesy Granger Smith

A Final Tour

Smith announced his shocking departure from country music on April 11. The singer/songwriter revealed the news to fans via social media and also shared dates for his farewell tour. 

“This message is so difficult to post,” he wrote in an Instagram post. ”The words for this caption are so hard to find. Not because I don’t believe in the truth of them, but because this marks the end of the longest era in my life! Touring…24 years of it.”

He continued, ”This summer will be my last tour. I am so encouraged and hopeful and excited and joyful about the next chapter, but to a large extent, I have no idea what it will look like. [I] just want to glorify God the best way that I can. I want to learn and grow and serve my local church and allow my pastors to equip and affirm those next steps. Lord willing, I want to be used to help people find their purpose.”

In a video message, Smith admitted that he has been “so nervous” to announce this next chapter of his life. 

“I have felt a strong desire to pursue ministry, and this doesn’t mean I’m going to start a church or a crusade or a revival,” Smith shared in the four-minute video. “This means that me and my family are going to serve our local church. I’m going to pour into that church as members and have my pastors and elders pour into me and disciple me and teach me as I sit under their wise teaching. And then, Lord willing, one day they can affirm me into the next steps of what that might look like to glorify God best From my platform, I’ve also been attending seminary.”

Granger Smith - Like A River
Granger Smith – Like A River

Book Coming This Year

This fall, Smith will release his first book, Like A River, which documents his family’s life after the tragic loss of their son, River, who passed away when he drowned in their pool in June of 2019. 

“I don’t want the tour to end and then all of a sudden, ‘Oh, now he’s got a book,’” he told PEOPLE. “I just want it to be very cohesive to the sentimental side of what this journey has meant — not even river in terms of my son, River, but just the life river that we’re traveling right now [and] I feel like these last few years I’ve really learned to surrender and just go with the flow and stop fighting against the stream that I did for so long in the music business and in life.”

Throughout his career, Smith released 10 studio albums, one live album, and two EPs. His major label debut, Remington, arrive on March 4, 2016, via Wheelhouse Records. The singer’s biggest chart success came with the release of “Backroad Song,” which hit No.1 on the country radio chart. The follow-up single, “If The Boot Fits,” peaked at No.6 on the country radio airplay chart.

Granger Smith is also known to perform under the alter ego Earl Dibbles Dr. He released several songs as Earl Dibbles Dr and often goes into character while on stage.

According to PEOPLE, Smith will continue to host his iHeartRadio show, After MidNite, as well as his Granger Smith Podcast.  

“These next six months will probably be the busiest of my entire life,” Smith told the outlet. “I have a lot on my plate, but I love it.”

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.