Pop & Christian Songstress Enjoys Connecting with Audiences & Sharing Experiences
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Christian Pop’ singer songwriter Amy Grant’s career has spanned more than four decades, since a young teenager broke through with her self-titled album in 1977. She was among a few faith-based artists to help bridge the gap into secular music scoring a string of Top 40 hits beginning in the mid 1980’s, with 1991’s ‘Heart in Motion’ propelling her into the pop music stratosphere.
There have been personal battles along the way, but Grant admits she’s never wavered far from her Christian belief. She did have a slight medical scare back in 2020 that required immediate attention. However, Grant recovered and says she’s doing better than ever. “I feel the best I’ve felt in over a decade. I had open heart surgery to repair what turned out to be a congenital condition. Thankfully the problem was fixable.”
Helping in the post-surgery recovery Grant began to do something she hadn’t done in quite a while. “To get my energy level back up I started swimming. I tried running but it just wasn’t me. Swimming I discovered was quite meditative, so I got up to four days a week.”
Looking back Grant says she’s had little time to reflect on the past 45 years. “Life just kind of goes by so quick and other things happen outside of your career. But it is mind boggling that I get to do this so many years down the road. I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to sing and perform at this stage of my life. I truly feel blessed.”
Although she didn’t single-handedly carry the torch for Christian crossover artists, she didn’t let any negative backlash from critics deter her from making her music. “It didn’t affect me because I didn’t allow it to. Thankfully it was during a time where we had no social media. That avenue can be very brutal and hurtful to artists today.”
Her own journey began rather simply. “When I first started writing songs, I was performing them in front of friends on the weekend with a group connected with my church. It’s just something I had in me.” Although she approached her songwriting from a teenage point of view, she had varied interests. “I enjoyed writing praise songs and still do, but I’ve always had a love for all kinds of music.”
After a run of highly regarded and commercially successful Christian albums including ‘My Father’s Eyes‘ (’79), ‘Never Alone’ (’80), and 1982’s ‘Age to Age’ which became the first Christian album by a solo artist to be certified platinum (1 million units sold), her team decided she was ready to broaden her appeal.
“I was recording for Word Records out of Nashville, and they actually approached A&M Records and said we have this young female who has a strong following and gaining a good bit of attention. So, before I knew they signed me to their (A&M) label.”
Her 1985 debut release with A&M ‘Unguarded’ made quite a splash for Grant yielding her success on Christian and secular radio. The lead single ‘Find a Way’ was a Top Ten hit on the Adult Contemporary chart peaking at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100, while ‘Everywhere I Go’ was a Top 30 AC single. ‘Unguarded’ would be certified platinum (1 million units sold) by June 1986.
Grant would score her first chart topper in 1986 on the duet ‘The Next Time I Fall’ a love song she recorded with former Chicago front man Peter Cetera for his album ‘Solitude/Solitaire‘. In February 2020, 34 years after its release, it was listed on a Billboard pop music list of top 25 love song duets.
“The beauty of music is that it freezes time. The older I get the more invested I am in the relationships the songs have to the listener. We all share something and music continues to bridge those connections.”
It was 1991’s ‘Heart in Motion’ that propelled Grant into the contemporary mainstream. The track ‘Baby Baby’ (written for Grant’s newborn daughter Millie) became a pop hit (hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100). ‘Baby Baby‘ would go on to receive Grammy nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Record and Song of the Year.
Four other hits from the album followed onto the pop charts, ‘Every Heartbeat’ (No. 2), ‘That’s What Love Is For’ (No. 7), ‘Good for Me’ (No. 8), and ‘I Will Remember You’ (No. 20). On the Adult Contemporary chart, all five songs were top 10 hits, with two of the five (‘Baby Baby’ and ‘That’s What Love Is For’) reaching No. 1. Christian fans remained loyal, putting the album atop Billboard Contemporary Christian Chart for a staggering 32 weeks.
‘Heart in Motion’ is Grant’s best-selling album, having sold over five million copies according to the RIAA. For her it was just a natural progression. “It wasn’t a total surprise to me. Five years earlier I had a hit song with Peter Cetera of Chicago fame and a couple others made the charts. I think the programmers, songwriters, and producers in Nashville knew I had more to offer.”
‘House of Love’ followed in 1994 giving Grant another platinum release with an additional four radio hits including ‘Lucky One’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (a remake of Joni Mitchells’ 1970 hit), and the title track a duet with her husband Vince Gill. “It was a fun album to record and a nice follow up to ‘Hearts in Motion’.” Like previous releases it combined pop music with Christian values. “It was a little more soulful. I was in point in my career where I wanted to stretch my boundaries.”
She recalls that time as a whirlwind. “That 10 to 15 year period, beginning in the mid 80’s to the end of the 90’s was a crazy time for me, but it also was the most creative. I was putting out songs that brought me a bigger audience. I was working a lot and trying to balance career and family life. There was a lot going on in my personal life and I was a young mother. I describe that period of my life like drinking out of the fire hose. Very fast paced. Rewarding but at times chaotic.”
A born again Christian, Grant doesn’t feel she has to preach when performing. “Honestly I just show up to my shows like every other person. I may be the one on stage but I realize everyone comes to my shows with life experiences and a measure of faith. I believe we’re all on this spiritual journey. As a woman of faith I feel honored to be able to share my journey through my songs.” She adds, “Hopefully my songs touch people in a good way and provide uplifting messages.”
Married to country superstar Vince Gill, Grant admits only one of them toy with music at home on a regular basis. “Me not so much, but Vince is always making music. Our house is filled with lots of love and music.”
As the 21st century began to unfold Grant returned to her roots, releasing five traditional faith-based albums over 13 years. To date Grant has put out over 20 studio albums including two Christmas albums, one live album, and a 2014 remix of ‘Heart in Motion’ appropriately titled ‘In Motion: The Remixes’.
Grant continues to tour. When she’s not gracing stages in November and December bringing her popular Christmas holiday concerts to adoring fans with the help of fellow Christian artist Michael W. Smith or Vince Gill, she’s out on tour performing her vast array of hit songs that have made her one of the most popular and gracious females singers over the past 30 years.
Amy Grant is back out on tour in 2022. She will make a tour stop at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday May 27th. Her current single ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’ is available on various streaming services. She’s included the remake of the 1969 hit song from Jackie DeShannon in her shows for years, and recently decided to make the track available to fans.
“I’ve loved that song since I first heard it and it’s been a part of my show for many years. Jackie’s version is amazing. 50 years later that song is still appropriate and very timely for today. It’s a feel-good song. I use it to offer hope to anyone who will take it too heart.” Going a step further Grant’s accompanying video pays tribute to her fan base. To listen to her current single and see the video visit https://amygrant.lnk.to/PALLIYH
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