Granger Smith recently revealed his plan to step away from music to pursue ministry at his local church. But what folks might not realize is his decision to do so will affect a whole bunch of people, from his crew to his label to his band to his road manager.
That isn’t lost on Granger Smith.
In fact, the thought of retiring from country music and affecting those around him was something that has weighed heavily on his mind.
Opened Up About Financial Fears
While Speaking with ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante, Smith shared his financial frustrations surrounding his upcoming life change.
“I’ve done this a long time, and not just me paying the bills, but there’s 14 guys that travel just in the road crew and the band,” Smith said. “Some of them have been with me for 13, 14 years, and they have families. So it’s like, you know, ‘We’ve got buses and a semi-truck and all this gear, and you’re telling me, Granger, just because you got this feeling, you’re going to cut all this off, you’re going to tell all these families, they got to find another job just because you have a feeling? Because you’re saying you can’t reconcile something?’ That will drive a man insane through a lot of sleepless nights, knowing that that announcement was coming.”
Despite knowing that his choices would impact others, Smith’s strong feelings to serve God outweighed the aftermath of his decisions. And, each day that he didn’t speak up, he had deeper regrets of not doing so.
“I probably knew for sure around October 2022,” he says of his intuition to pull away from music for good in a separate interview with ET Canada. “So I had a long time to think about it. And the longer the time went by, the more sure I was of it. And then probably around New Year’s… I knew it’s time to tell the band, time to tell the crew and start the ball rolling.”
His Team And Wife Knew He Was Going To Retire
Smith wasn’t the only one who noticed a shift in how he felt. He says his wife, Amber Bartlett and his label had suspicions of his retirement.
“It was probably a slow process,” he says. “[Amber] probably saw it coming because of what I would say when I’d come back off tour, and my passion was slowly kind of decreasing on tour and making music.”
“In October of 2021, I left my record label, and they just let me go so gracefully and so graciously,” he continued. “I’m so thankful for BMG…. They’re not supposed to do that, not supposed to let an artist go like that. But, they saw it coming.”
Tragic Loss Of Their Three-Year-Old Son River
Granger Smith and his wife have been through some struggles together. In 2019, they tragically lost their three-year-old son River to a drowning accident. Noting his son’s unfortunate fate, Smith says his label saw a pivot in the star, known by his alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr.
“Since we lost our son, [BMG] saw a change in me and a change in direction, a change in purpose and what I wanted to accomplish from my platform,” he said. “So they let me go. I thought that was probably a good move to clear up, trying to chase the radio chart, and put out new singles and have a quota for that. But it wasn’t enough because I still felt that feeling that touring was still weighing me down as well.”
“I think it’s an overwhelming feeling. You know, as I was studying and reading the Bible and trying to be faithful to God as much as I could, and if I want to be faithful, if I want to surrender and be faithful, then it would be a contradiction if I said, ‘Well, I’m going to be faithful on my terms or on my time,” he added. “And so I, kind of, wrestled with that. Like… Delayed obedience is disobedience, and…. I thought about that.”
Smith continued, “This is not for everyone to hear me say that and think that that’s supposed to apply to their lives immediately. It was my own sanctification. It was my own feeling that I started wrestling with. I am trying to get glory and praise and seek self-gratification every night on the stage….so if I could reconcile that with no, I’m trying to do it for the people. I’m trying to bring joy to the people that would be lying to myself because I needed the praise. I needed people to cheer. Otherwise, it just wasn’t a good show for me. And that was the key. That was the key that let me know this is not a healthy path that you’re on right now.”
Retiring From Music
Last month, Smith, who is working towards a master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced on Instagram he would be retiring from music after more than two decades in the business.
“I have felt a strong desire to pursue ministry. This doesn’t mean I’m going to start a church or a crusade…. but this is a time of learning and growing for me,” Smith explained in a video post. “I’m so hopeful about this future. Amber and I have been totally united on this. I know there are going to be a lot of questions, and I’m going to try to stay engaged. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be here.”
“Being a musician was never a prison, but this is a new passion, a new focus, a new direction that I believe is going to allow me to focus more on individual people and their lives, which is, ultimately, why I started music touring in the very beginning,” he further explained in an interview with PEOPLE.
Smith’s currently on his final trek, dubbed the Like A River Tour, which wraps Aug. 26.