When having a conversation with T. Graham Brown, you really get the sense that he is genuinely living the ministry he feels he’s been given…that of helping others find their way out of alcoholism into a better life.
If you’ve ever listened to T. Graham on the radio, you’ll know that there were many hits that landed him high on the charts and in the hearts of country music listeners. First rising to fame in 1986, Brown has had nine top 10 songs from his 13 studio albums. With over 20 singles hitting Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” chart and eight in the Top Ten, Brown’s singles “Hell and High Water,” “Don’t Go To Strangers” and 1988’s “Darlene” all hit No. 1.
But there was one song that turned everything around for T. Graham Brown. Already successful, this turnaround wasn’t so much musical as it was personal. In 1998, Brown’s self-penned “Wine into Water” turned his personal life around forever.
According to Brown, he was really bad off. “I was really in a bad way…I mean, I can’t describe to you how bad it was. And if it weren’t for the Good Lord above and Sheila Brown – my wife of 35 years – I might not be standing here today. I would’ve probably been found in a ditch somewhere…”
When asked if he finds it hard to share the song on stage each night in front of hundreds or thousands of fans, Brown turns thoughtful. “Not anymore. It used to be when I first did it,” he says, “but realizing the number of people who’ve been helped by it makes me feel good about it, and I enjoy singing it every time.”
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who’ve written or emailed me to tell me really incredible things about how that song has helped them. And I’ve had more than one person tell me they were about to end their lives, but then they happened to turn the radio on and that song was playing. It made them change their minds, and they didn’t do it,” Brown commented gratefully.
“There are a lot of people hurting out there, and some have found this song and been helped by it. So that’s the whole reason the new album was cut, because we wanted to get ‘Wine into Water’ back out there. I’m doing a video of it, and we’ll put it out there with all the social media and online and hope some people find it,” Brown informs us. “I’m really looking forward to doing that.”
Today, T. Graham Brown has a brand new Gospel album out entitled “Forever Changed” that has already garnered a Grammy nomination in the “Best Roots Gospel” category. The album boasts multiple guest artists, with the likes of Vince Gill, Steve Cropper and Leon Russell joining Brown on multiple cuts. The list of renowned guest artists goes on and on. “We had a very small budget for this album – and I mean a VERY small budget. But Sheila’s and my personal ministry is to try and help people get sober. We’re also part of this church building organization called “International Cooperating Ministries,” so we decided the proceeds would go to the church building organization. But we had no idea how we were going to sell this record. We just thought we’d sell it at the shows and do what we could online. Maybe sell them on our website or something, but we never really planned on anything big. We just did it on faith, and we cut the tracts. Then I started calling up some friends of mine to come over and sing on it…”
To his surprise, everyone said “yes.” Brown continues, “Nobody said, ‘Let me check my calendar and get back with you’ or anything like that. They just said ‘yes,’ and then they worked it into their schedules somehow. Sheila and I were really proud of that part of it. And we’ve been blessed with some great friends over the years…who actually like me,” Brown states jokingly.
Brown asked Vince Gill, Leon Russell, Jimmy Fortune, Sonya Isaacs, the Oak Ridge Boys and Steve Cropper to join him on the album. He also recruited some friends from the gospel music world, including Jason Crabb, Jeff & Sheri Easter, The Booth Brothers, and Three Bridges.
Some of the album cuts include the title cut “Forever Changed,” He’ll Take Care of You,” with Vince Gill, and of course “Wine Into Water,” which inspired this gospel project.
How did Brown and his wife feel about the Grammy nomination? “You mean after we stopped crying?” he chuckles humbly. “Sheila and I are just so happy–and so thankful. We’ve been at this a long time, and we hung in there. We’re still touring – still have a band and a bus and all that. We’re just thrilled about it. Then we got the album finished, and Sony records came on board – and Provident Records came on board. I’m 60 years old, and I’m back on a major label! It’s just great. You never know what God has up His sleeve, that’s for sure. The whole thing is great!”
If you’d like to find out more about T. Graham Brown and where he is now, visit his website.