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Granger Smith To Leave Country Music For Jesus

12 April 2023 | 11:03 am | Staff Writer

Granger Smith has been touring for almost 25 years.

(Image: Supplied)

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Granger Smith, who is also known by his alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., is leaving country music.

When his Like A River tour comes to an end this August, Smith will pursue a new career in ministry at his local church outside of Austin, Texas. The tour is named after his 3-year-old son River who died after tragically drowning in the family’s backyard pool.

Smith shared the news on social media.

“I’ve been so nervous to make this video,” Smith begins. “Just because of the implications it means for my life and family. But I’m making this post to announce that this summer is my last ever tour.”

“I have felt a strong desire to pursue ministry. This doesn't mean I'm going to start a church, crusade or revival. It means me and my family are going to serve our local church.”  

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Smith has been married to Amber Emily Bartlett since February 2020. They share three children – London, 11, Lincoln 9, and Maverick, 20 months.

Smith further captioned, “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 tandem with the announcement, Smith also revealed he’s busy working towards a master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has a memoir titled Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache coming out on August 1. It'll follow his emotional journey through the ups and downs after River's death and teach readers how to face their failures, confront their pain, and connect with God.

"I remember turning in the manuscript for the first time, and I called my wife Amber, and I said, 'Well, I'm about to send this manuscript out. There's no stopping it now.' Like, you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube," he told PEOPLE. "There's things in here that are extremely vulnerable. It's very personal. But the overwhelming feeling was that if my story could help others, then it's worth it, then it matters."

While Smith identified as a Christian prior, he says that his relationship with his faith grew significantly after River’s death.

"As I was reading the Bible, I was coming across things with a new heart and eyes opened," he said. "During my healing, I was reading things like Mark 8:36, where Jesus said, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and the gospel, will save it.' Then he goes on to say, 'For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'"

"I was sitting there looking at that through my broken healing," he continued. "And this was during COVID, and I wasn't touring, and I was reading this like, 'Where in country music am I modelling that for other people? Because all I'm doing as far as I see — and I'm not speaking to any other artist — is glorifying myself.' That's a contradiction that has built up within me over and over until I had to come to this conclusion that there's now a turning point, a new direction for my life."

Throughout his music career, Smith has released eleven studio albums, one live album and two EPs. Smith’s last album – Moonrise – dropped in November 2022. He also joined Christian music singer-songwriter, Matthew West on the track, Greatest Hits, in February this year.

As well as music, Smith made his acting debut in the TV movie drama, Moonrise. According to IMDB, Smith plays a character called Will Brown. The plot synopsis reads: After country singer Will Brown's wife passes away, his grief sidelines his career and pushes him away from his young daughter until a bright and talented horse trainer shows him strength, forgiveness and grace to live life again.


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