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Music Preview: Amy Grant's career comes full circle

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sunday, September 15, 2002
By Rosa Colucci, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's hard to believe, but Amy Grant is celebrating her silver anniversary. For those of you who don't keep a Hallmark gift guide at your desk, that's 25 years. The young girl who crooned "El Shaddai" and had the entire country bopping to "Baby, Baby" has come full circle.

Amy Grant was a faith-filled 17-year-old when she signed a deal with Myrrh Records. She spent the next 10 years releasing a record a year and rocketing to the top of the Christian music charts back when the label/genre "Contemporary Christian Music" didn't exist.

One might even argue that the Christian music industry was built around her. To date, Grant has sold more than 22 million albums, has had 10 Top 40 singles and 10 Grammy nominations (she's a five-time winner) and has won 20 Dove Awards.

Audio from a conversation with Amy Grant

Post-Gazette Staff Writer Rosa Colucci and singer Amy Grant touched on several topics during their 25 minute talk:

Realizing that recording music could be a real job.
(1.5MB MP3)

The decision to cross over from recording Christian to secular music.
(949K MP3)

Setting up microphones to take questions from the audience at the beginning of the current tour.
(1.6MB MP3)

Why the audience microphones won't be used in Pittsburgh.
(887K MP3)

Was there ever a time when she felt bigger than ... well, you know?

"It never really hit me that way," she says, adding that in the beginning, "it all just felt like a fun hobby."

But after releasing her first album while in high school, the wheels were in motion. She cut four more discs while a student at Vanderbilt University. As a college senior, she took time off to record her sixth album, "Age to Age."

"I remember feeling differently about making the music. I just felt like we were putting more thought into it. A lot of the earlier albums, somebody would write the music, someone else would have the lyrics -- a really backward way to make records. We were just trying to pump them out so fast. Thoughts like 'artistry' and 'musical integrity' never even occurred to me.

"Sometimes I listen to old records and think, 'If somebody pitched me that song today, I would laugh.' We were just having fun, and it never occurred to me that somebody was watching me."

Watching and listening. Her senior year in college, it all hit home.

"I started seeing everybody getting 'real' jobs and I thought, 'Man, I need to get a real job.' Then I thought, 'This is my job.'"

That revelation came not a minute too soon: "Age to Age" became her first platinum record, selling more than a million copies. And it earned Grant her first Grammy -- at the tender age of 23.

The next four releases also went platinum. Then in 1985, the single "Find a Way," from her album "Unguarded," found crossover success on secular radio. A pop duet with Peter Cetera, "The Next Time I Fall," went to No. 1 in 1986. Her decision to mainstream her music after releasing "Lead Me On" in 1988 was a reflection of her personal life.

"My son Matt was born. He was just a little guy when he went on the road. I started writing for the next record and, pregnant with my second child [Millie], I tended to be a little bit serious. I was so sick of myself after that 'Lead Me On' tour, I felt like every ballad ... I was just the drama queen!"

So she began working on material for 1991's "Heart in Motion." She took the songs home, watching her son's reaction. He would "dance and jump and twirl and spin. I just thought, 'This is exactly what I want to be doing right now.'"

Amy Grant

With: Fernando Ortega.

Where: Orchard Hill Church, Franklin Park.

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Tickets: $39.50; 412-323-1919.


The breezy disc proved Matt had a great ear for good music. "Heart in Motion" sold five million records, earned four Grammy nominations, and spawned the No. 1 hit "Baby Baby" and four other Top 20 hits, "Every Heartbeat," "That's What Love Is For," "Good for Me" and "I Will Remember You."

A 1992 Christmas album and another successful pop release followed. The '97 disc "Behind the Eyes" revealed a very different singer to the world -- the one she once referred to in an interview as "Prozac and razor blades" Grant.

She laughed when reminded of the quote, but it wasn't inaccurate. At the time, her songwriting was reflective of the personal turmoil she was experiencing in her marriage to singer Gary Chapman, shaking her faith and sending her into a period of deep introspection. In March 1999, after 17 years of marriage, the couple split. Grant found herself ridiculed by some Christians who felt she should have found a way to work it out. Some Christian retailers pulled her records from the shelves, and some Christian radio stations refused to play her music.

Just as that fire petered out, her deep friendship with country music star Vince Gill blossomed into love. The two married in March 2000, bringing another wave of protests from hard-core fundamentalists.

But the sadness in "Behind the Eyes" is mostly gone now. Her official Web site ( boasts smiling family photos of the Grant/Gill clan at the wedding and other happy occasions. She's come to grips with the dark days and says she "wouldn't trade anything for where life has brought me now."

Her new album, "Legacy ... Hymns & Faith," is a celebration of her roots and was co-produced by Gill and her longtime associate, Brown Bannister. Her manager, Michael Blanton, suggested the project as a way to celebrate her 25 years in music. Everyone went into the studio with the goal of recording the entire album in 25 days; it took 29. Included are 10 hymns and five new songs.

The Grant-Gill union has produced more than this disc: Their daughter, Corinna, was born last year.

It's also produced a "Legacy" tour, which includes a stop in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Orchard Hill Church, Franklin Park. And if Grant's guitar player looks a little familiar, that's because he's her husband.

"Vince had cleared his schedule so that we could be on the road, and then my regular guitar player said that he just couldn't do the tour," Grant explains. "Vince said he would gladly step in and do it. It will really make it a lot more fun for me."

Grant, 41, isn't slowing down. She expects to release a new album in the spring, titled "Simple Things," and Word Records will market a boxed set of her music next fall. No one said legacies can't stretch beyond 25 years.

Rosa Colucci can be reached at or 412-263-3859.

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