Granger Smith Is Quitting Country Music to Pursue Ministry

Country artist Granger Smith and his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. will be calling it quits after an upcoming summer tour so that Smith can pursue a life in ministry. Smith made the announcement in a video to his fans published on Tuesday (4-11) afternoon (see below).

“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 or a crusade or a revival. This means me and my family are going to serve our local church,” Smith said in the video. “And then one day Lord willing they can affirm me into the next steps of what that might look like to glorify God best from my platform. I’ve also been attending seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and that just takes a ton of time to pursue.”

The 43-year-old has spent the better part of 24 years in the music business. He dropped out of Texas A&M University when he was 19 to move to Nashville and signed his first recording contract, but Smith would later return to Texas A&M and complete his degree, while continuing to perform within the Texas/Red Dirt scene, releasing seven independent albums from 1999 to 2011.

In 2012 Smith launched his alter Ego Earl Dibbles Jr. with the viral song and video “Country Boy Song.” It was eventually Certified Gold, and established Granger as a force in the music business. Though some thought the song was parody of the emerging Bro-Country craze in country, Granger went on to in some respects join the craze when he signed with Broken Bow Records in 2015 and released the #1 single “Backroad Song.”

Smith also had success with the singles “If The Boot Fits” in 2016 and “Happens Like That” in 2017, but struggled as time went on to continue the success. Much of Smith’s career seemed to be spent in conflict with wanting to express himself, and wanting to be successful in the music business.

Everything became much more complicated when his 3-year-old son River Kelly Smith died in a drowning accident at his home in June of 2019. This caused Granger to reassess his priorities in life. In the video announcing his musical retirement, Smith also announced he will be releasing a book on August 1st called Like a River about the loss of his son. “It’s the most important piece of media that I could ever release” Smith says.

In the video, Granger Smith talks about how he could not resolve seeking adulation as a performer and giving himself to service to God, specifically citing the death of Jesus on the cross.

“That form of self-denial is just something I’m not doing in country music,” Granger says. “When I get up on a stage, and just need glorification and need praise, and if I don’t get it that means my career is not doing well, and so I work harder for that. I can’t reconcile those two things y’all, I can’t. I can’t go to seminary and pursue ministry and be poured in by my pastors and elders, and then go out on the weekends and try to be exalting myself. I think that’s a contradiction. This is not anything against anyone else who can do music and succeed in denying themselves. I’m not very good at it.”

Granger’s final tour will start April 13th, and go to August 25th and 26th when he’ll play two final shows at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth.

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