Remember How Bob Carlisle's "Butterfly Kisses" Became a Crossover Smash Hit?

Bob Carlisle

Christian music artist Bob Carlisle is best known for his hit "Butterfly Kisses." In 1997, the song was a major radio hit, reaching the #1 position on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and #10 on Billboard's Hot 100. "Butterfly Kisses" also received a Dove Award for Song of the Year as well as a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Written by Carlisle and Randy Thomas, the song is a father's view of his child growing up and a recognition of how precious that relationship is.  

The song was written for Carlisle's daughter's 16th birthday. However, Carlisle had always felt that the song was too personal to be released on an album. After much conjuring from his wife, Carlisle finally played the song to the record's execcutives. He recalls, "Quite frankly, I was reluctant to do so because it was such a personal song to me and I was a bit shy about it. In fact I was so shy about it, I left the room when we played it for them! I came back in the room after the song was over and they were very moved by it and everyone insisted that I put it on the album."

However, "Butterfly Kisses" was not scheduled to be released as a single. The album Shades of Grace had already been propelled by the song "Mighty Love" instead. But then something extraordinary happened. "In Seattle, a guy went to a wedding where the song was played, returned to his [mainstream] radio station and played the song. Soon the phone lines were jammed," Carlisle reveals.

"Then I did a live interview with a Christian music station in St Louis and the traffic reporter up in the helicopter heard it and sent the song to the local adult contemporary station." Once again the phone lines lit up!"

In the summer of '97, Carlisle was already a crossover success. The label re-titled and re-released the album as Butterfly Kisses (Shades Of Grace). They had a big butterfly  slapped upon the cover where Carlisle's face used to be. The song was later also covered by Westlife, Sir Cliff Richard, Raybon Brothers, and Jeff Carson. No less than five books have been based on the song. 

The song has had impacted the lives of many people, Carlisle recounts, "I received a letter from a couple who had lost a child to a degenerative brain disease and they were thanking me! They used the song at their child's funeral service and it helped them in their mourning process. Talk about music creating the tangible. . . this is just God!" 


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