IMAGINE THAT

Dad-to-be Jeff Carson returns with a new single that he worried was 'too Christian' for country radio

Jeff Carson still can't keep from smiling as he recalls the day earlier this year when wife Kim told him -- more or less -- that he was going to be a daddy for the first time.

He'd been working on his new album, set for release later this year on the heels of the CD's first single, "I Can Only Imagine."

"I'd just gotten in from a recording session here in town," he recalls. "And Kim asked me to fold some clothes in the dryer. I pulled out towels to fold, and a piece of cloth fell on the floor. By the time I got to the last towel, I still didn't know what was layin' there. So I picked it up -- and it was a baby shirt.

"Right then I noticed Kim peekin' around the corner of the kitchen, watchin'. It was a very emotional moment."

Jeff and Kim had been trying to start a family for a year and a half -- without success. "We actually had doctors' appointments to take the next step, whether it be in vitro fertilization or whatever," he declares.

An ultrasound later revealed they were having a son, due in late November. And the boy's already got quite a name waiting for him -- Dayton Grei Herndon Carson.

In between concert dates as part of the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party with Rhett Akins, Daryle Singletary and Chad Brock, Jeff's helped Kim paint and do whatever's needed to get the house ready for the new arrival.

Yep, these are exciting times for Jeff. And his current single is another big reason.

"When I was approached about recording 'I Can Only Imagine,' " he explains, "I listened to it and said, 'Guys, I don't know. I'm a Christian, but I'm a country artist and I just don't know if this song's too Christian for the country format.' There's no doubt it's a great song."

Finally, he just knew that recording the tune was the right thing to do.

"It has a great message," declares Jeff. "And I'm sure we've all thought about what it'll be like to come face to face with Jesus. So I think if this message reaches a few people -- mission accomplished."

But, while Jeff would love to have another hit, he's got different priorities now. "When you have something as important as a baby on the way," he says with a smile, "the career, the music business and the watchin' the charts, that comes second. But I'm not gonna work any less hard. I might even work harder.

" 'Cause, one way or another, I'm gonna give that boy a good life."

-- David Scarlett

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