It’s hardly coincidence that two of Scott Stapp’s most remarkable songs mark milestones that forever touch and transform the human heart, and both start with his son. “With Arms Wide Open” emerged 14 years ago, as a pure heart cry of a father confronting the indescribable joy of fatherhood balanced against his own fearful upbringing and doubts of readiness for fatherhood. Beyond putting Creed in worldwide preeminence as a rock band, the ballad became an anthem of parenthood for all time. “Break Out” beckons from his second solo album, Proof of Life, for “saying hello to a new dream,” breaking bondages and fearful holds of the past, and taking action for change. This time, father and son worked in collaboration, as dad took some of son, Jagger’s chorus lines, and fleshed them out into a song that brought Stapp to a place of invigoration and “determination that I had first felt back in 1995 with Creed. Many, like this writer, who have witnessed the ravages of addiction personally and within the music industry for decades, and never lost faith in the bold baritone or his message, are more than ready to celebrate his redemption. The singer-songwriter has always delved into the heart in both songwriting and performance, but he now has a new appreciation of purpose and clarity that he hopes to share with audiences in some very intimate settings and in festival venues on his summer tour.
Scott describes the process of creating Proof of Life as part of the “therapy” of “coming out of the fog” of addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs that were part of a cycle of self-medication for depression and coping with the pressures on his body and psyche that were unrelenting through the pinnacle of worldly success. As he began to allow himself to become “broken enough and humbled enough” in the process of facing his dragons, making amends wherever possible, and seeing through eyes of sobriety for the first time in a decade, the artist came to understand himself as his own “proof of life,” and embrace a new appreciation of “the simple, the ordinary, and for people with the mentality of serving and giving and sharing my experiences.” “I came to see the purpose for all that happened was like being in school,” the artist elaborates. Stapp hopes that his audience and anyone battling to overcome a condition of bondage in life will take the affirmation of the last line in the title song as an individual claim of freedom, “You’re the proof of life!”
Part of the continuing education of recovery has been learning how to receive the many stories of redemption and gratitude that seem to flow endlessly from fans while on tour, and even from those closest to Scott. Even back in the day, “I didn’t know how to accept it,” he confesses. Once he was able to receive those expressions in truth and love with a new heart, he still struggled with taking on “a heaviness of emotional attachment” with every story, positive endings notwithstanding. These days, though, Scott relates as one brother to another brother or sister, just wanting to give them “a hug” and words of “gratitude and thankfulness” to those who stood by him in and through the storms. Ever-prompted in his new sense of purpose, the rocker strives to empower audiences with a new hope as they journey with him through his live show. He aims for every night to be that near out-of-body experience, wherein artist and audience are one, “feeling no fear, in the spirit, hitting every note, and connected.” Possessing unforgettable stage presence that punctuates the depth of the songs, Stapp enables audiences to feel through him and with him, through the safe confines of verse. He remembers regaining balance for daily life, simply getting through “the next 5 minutes, half-hour, and day” truly one day at a time, and wants to inspire anyone listening that they can get there, too, in their battle. His passionate outpouring is something far beyond trending stagecraft– it is transformational. The set is balance between tracks from Proof of Life (with three songs currently on the Christian charts) and familiar Creed favorites. The venues range from intimate nightclub settings to regional festivals, such as Ottumwa, Iowa’s Promiseland Festival in July, while the composer’s message of spiritual renewal and life reclamation keeps its aim whether 100 or thousands stand before his stage. Dates continue all summer. “It’s a show that brings something for “anyone who wants to feel, connect to something bigger, or just see the great rock show,” Stapp describes. As in the Spring run, he is accompanied by the superb musicianship of Chad Szeliga, drums, Andrew Waldeck, bass, and Andy Wood and Travis Comer on guitars.
While coming to a new level of understanding love from his fans, Scott Stapp has been crystal clear in his awareness and appreciation of the constant presence, determination and devotion of his wife, Jaclyn. “I wouldn’t even be here without this woman,” he credited from the K-LOVE Fan Awards red carpet. “I just thank God everyday for putting her in my life.” He also encouraged the larger family of believing wives at the side of husbands facing any life struggle. “You can be such a divine instrument for God in your husband’s life.” From Scripture, to stage and backstage, to deepest soul-sharing, love for this man has become a living reality.