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Granger Smith announces he will stop touring to pursue ministry

The country music singer, whose 3-year-old son, River, died in 2019, announced on April 11 that his upcoming "Like A River" tour will be the last of his career.
/ Source: TODAY

Granger Smith is leaving touring behind to focus on ministry and his local church in his native Texas.

The country music singer, whose 3-year-old son, River, died in a drowning accident in 2019, announced April 11 on his social media pages that his upcoming "Like a River" concert tour, which kicks off April 13, will be the last of his career.

"This summer is my last-ever tour. 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. This means that me and my family are going to serve our local church," Smith, 43, tells fans in a selfie video.

The singer continues, “We’re 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.”

Smith says he had already begun pursuing a master's degree with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"This is a time of learning and growing for me," Smith tells fans in his video.

He adds that on Aug. 1, his new memoir, "Like A River," will be published.

"It shouldn't surprise you what that book is about," Smith says. "It's about from when I lost my son, Riv, to when we had Mav and everything in between that the Lord did and the radical way of opening my eyes. That message is so important to tell."

Granger Smith (center) performs at the Kentucky State Fair on August 21, 2019 in Louisville, KY.
Country music singer Granger Smith (center) is winding down his touring life after 24 years.Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images

Smith calls the memoir “the most important piece of media” he's ever created, and says the book's redemptive message has become his “life mission.”

Smith concludes his message by explaining that he could no longer “reconcile” the two most prominent aspects of his life: religion and fame.

His seeking “glorification” on a music stage is at odds with Jesus’ sacrifice, as well as “self-denial” as it has been depicted in the Bible, Smith tells fans, adding, "I think that's a contradiction."

Smith says his wife, Amber Smith, agreed with his decision to leave touring to pursue ministry. “Amber and I have been totally united on this. She’s my best friend. She’s my first counsel,” he says.

In the caption of his video, Granger Smith wrote, “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,” he added.

Amber Smith and Granger Smith
Smith says he and his wife, Amber, have been "totally united" regarding his decision to leave touring.Rick Kern / Getty Images for PureFlix

In June 2022, Amber Smith opened up about the devastating moment the couple had to tell their daughter, London, and son Lincoln that their younger brother River had died.

During an appearance on the “Meaning Full Living” podcast, Amber Smith told listeners that the nurses at the hospital instructed the couple to be honest with their children about the tragedy.

“Kids are resilient and they’re going to know if you’re sugarcoating things, so we just went home with that intention of being very honest and saying, I hate using the word ‘died,’ but we went home and said, ‘River was without oxygen for too long. They did everything that they could but Bubbie died,’” she said.

“And then we just let them process their emotions and we just have continually told them that whatever they’re feeling — if they’re angry, if they’re sad, if they’re mad, if they’re happy ... it’s OK,” added Amber Smith, who said London and Lincoln spent time in play therapy after River's death.

In 2021, the Smiths welcomed another son, Maverick.

During her podcast interview, Amber Smith revealed that she and her husband encourage their children to keep River’s memory alive.

“He’s still so very much a part of our lives that I think that has helped them process their grief and heal to where now … they laugh and they tell stories about him,” she said.

“They laugh about how funny he was. Of course, there’s still moments of sadness, but I’m pleased, I guess is the word I should say, as to how they’re healing. I’m grateful for how they’re healing and how resilient that they are.”