Granger Smith has announced plans to quit country music.

After years in the music business, an alter ego called Earl Dibbles Jr. and 11 studio albums to his name, the singer has decided that he will hang up his artist hat and pursue a new career in ministry.

Smith will conclude his music career with his previously-announced Like a River Tour, a trek that kicks off this month and is named for the 3-year-old son he lost in a drowning accident in 2019. After River's death, the singer and his wife Amber threw themselves into the work of transforming their tragedy into purpose, raising awareness on water safety for parents everywhere.

Smith's tour will come to an end in August, and at that point, he'll turn his attention to his work in his church.

"I have felt a strong desire to pursue ministry. This doesn't mean I'm going to start a church, but this is a time of learning and growing for me," the singer explains to fans on social media, announcing his departure from music in a video post.

"I'm so hopeful about this future," he adds. "Amber and I have been totally united on this. I know there are going to be a lot of questions and I'm going to try to stay engaged. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be here."

Speaking to People, Smith reflects further on the shifting priorities that led him to exist his current career. "Being a musician was never a prison, but this is a new passion, a new focus, a new direction that I believe is going to allow me to focus more on individual people and their lives, which is ultimately why I started music touring in the very beginning," he says.

Smith says he's currently working towards a master's degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but is quick to stress that his overall persona and online presence won't be all that much different than it is now. In fact, he's opening his life up even more to fans — Smith is working on a memoir about the difficult process of healing in the wake of his young son's death.

Called Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache, Smith's book will arrive on Aug. 1.

"I remember turning in the manuscript for the first time, and I called my wife Amber, and I said, 'Well, I'm about to send this manuscript out. There's no stopping it now.' Like, you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube," he recounts to People. "There's things in here that are extremely vulnerable. It's very personal. But the overwhelming feeling was that if my story could help others, then it's worth it, then it matters."

Smith also says that his relationship with his faith grew significantly after River's death, saying that "as I was reading the Bible, I was coming across things with a new heart and eyes opened." Specifically, he mentions one passage, which quotes Jesus as saying "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'"

"And this was during COVID, and I wasn't touring, and I was reading this like, 'Where in country music am I modeling that for other people? Because all I'm doing as far as I see — and I'm not speaking to any other artist — is glorifying myself,'" he continues. "That's a contradiction that has built up within me over and over until I had to come to this conclusion that there's now a turning point, a new direction for my life."

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