Song Background: Cinderella

The song “Cinderella” is a beautiful piece written by award winning Christian singer and songwriter Stephen Curtis Chapman for his daughters in 2008. I would love to tell you about this song by giving you the background story of love, tragedy, and healing and the song “Cinderella.” 


The story starts when Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, adopted a little girl named Maria from China in 2004. The couple had already adopted two other children from China and had three biological children of their own. With five children, Mary Beth told Steven not to even look at orphans while he was in China. However, Steven not only looked at Maria but fell in love with her at first sight. It was only a few months after meeting Maria, that she became a Chapman. After adopting Maria, Steven wrote a song for all of his girls about how they would grow up to be “Cinderellas.” After her adoption, Maria became very close with one of her new sisters, Stevey Joy, who was also adopted and only seven months older than Maria. Maria was also adored by all her other siblings and new parents. But tragedy struck only a few years later. 

Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, called Maria their “most spirited child.” The girl was killed after being struck in the family’s driveway in 2008.
Maria Chapman. Image courtesy of Tennessean, Entertainment.


On May 21, 2008, a tragedy happened involving Maria and her beloved older brother Will. Maria was playing with her sister outside on the family’s playground when she heard her brother’s car pull up. Wanting help with the monkey bars, she ran out to the driveway to see her big brother coming home. As Maria was running toward the car, Will turned, and, because she was so little, he never saw Maria and hit her with the SUV. After being rushed to Nashville Hospital, the five-year-old died from her injuries. As expected, this was traumatic on everyone, perhaps the hardest on Will as he was the one who was unknowingly responsible for his sister’s death. RIght after the accident, Will was so shell shocked that he started to run across the yard. His older brother Caleb caught him and held him in the yard telling Will his family loved him. This event was heartbreaking for Steven Curtis Chapman who thought he would never sing “Cinderella” again. 


“Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone”

Chapman originally wrote the song to remember not to rush his girls into growing up. However, the song took on a new meaning after Maria’s death. The lyrics above were the original chorus lyrics for the song that were changed after Maria’s death. When performing at the first concert after Maria’s death, Chapman started to play the intro to “Cinderella” and was struggling. He told the audience that he’d never thought he’d play the song again and didn’t know if he would get through it tonight. However, he continued and when he got to the chorus, he sang, “the clock will strike midnight, but I know … the truth is … the dance will go on.” With these words, Chapman truly began to realize he would see his daughter again one day in Heaven, and it was through “Cinderella” and His steadfast faith in God that he began to heal. 

In light of this heart wrenching story of loss and love, I would encourage you to love well while you have time. You never know when your time on earth will be up. When God will call one of your loved ones home. The Bible also tells us in James 4:14b, “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” We are not promised tomorrow or even the next hour, but we do have this moment, so I challenge you to spend what precious little time we have here on earth loving everyone you know and holding them close. If you want to read more about this tragic yet beautiful story, I would encourage you to read Mary Beth Chapman’s book Choosing to See.