Heartland -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By CRYSTAL CAVINESS, United Press International  |  April 26, 2002 at 4:45 AM
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NASHVILLE, April 26 (UPI) -- David Phelps needs to sign up for cloning.

One night he's doing a solo gig, the next he's onstage with one of Christian music's most popular groups. And, of course, there's his volunteer work with Nashville's homeless community.

"One feeds the other if you do it right," Phelps said recently during an interview from his traveling tour bus.

Phelps regularly juggles multiple roles, from his job as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band with veteran entertainer Bill Gaither, to his solo career promoting his new self-titled CD. His volunteer work with "Room At The Inn," a church-based program that offers overnight lodging for homeless individuals and families, has inspired the business community to provide vitamins to people in hopes of providing healthier diets.

"When I learned just how much David Phelps has been doing -- he has his entire family involved -- I knew we wanted to work with him," said Pat Riley of MDR Health, a company that has donated cases of vitamins to Music City's homeless through the "Room At The Inn" program.

"He has a real heart for the less fortunate. He's not afraid to make a bed and get his hands dirty if it's going to help someone. When I hear that amazing voice and know that his heart is even bigger, I am overwhelmed," Riley said.

Phelps has involved his entire family in the mission. His wife, Lori, and daughter Callie (Phelps also has two other young children, Maggie Beth and Grant) regularly help out with "Room At The Inn." Phelps said he especially enjoys watching his young daughter Callie participate. But for him, it's about the basics.

"When I don't eat, I get irritable, I don't work as well," Phelps said. "Jesus tells us we need to care for their physical needs first."

Though Phelps' career plate seems full enough, the busy vocalist is also a respected songwriter in Nashville. He joined an impressive line-up on April 23 when he was included with Charlie Daniels, Sara Groves, Wes King, Out of the Grey and author Donna VanLiere at the Country Music Hall of Fame during an "American Songwriter's Evening in Stories and Song."

"It makes me nervous sometimes to be included with such great writers," Phelps said.

Phelps can certainly hold his own. He wrote or co-wrote six of the 11 songs on his solo debut CD and has previously co-written with some of the best in the industry, including David Mullens, Grant Cunningham and Regie Hamm.

"Co-writing is a great learning experience, because you get to learn how other people think," Phelps said. "Having two heads is always better than one."

Whether working with others or alone, Phelps' solo project has reiterated what many already knew: Phelps is a rare talent. In fact, the new project has propelled him into new categories of recognition.

Phelps has been nominated for male vocalist of the year at the Dove Awards, the Christian music industry's biggest night, held this week Nashville -- covered by PAX-TV. Phelps competes in that category with industry veterans such as Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman and fellow newcomers Mark Schultz and Mac Powell. Phelps' CD also has been nominated for inspirational album of the year.

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