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Christian singer Amy Grant has a chart-topping single and a steamy video, which has led some Christian colleagues to question her dedication to her beliefs. Across the country, Christian radio stations are split on whether to give airplay to the song Baby Baby. Secular radio stations have snapped it up, giving Baby Baby plenty of air time. In the last week of April and the first week of May, the song was No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

Grant has been defending her newfound secular success, claiming that just because she's a Christian doesn't mean she has to talk about it all the time. And the video, a sexually suggestive bit that shows Grant frolicking with a man, is not what the Christian community has come to expect. In a recent television interview, Grant said sexual suggestiveness ''is relative.''

Could this be the same Grant who but a few short years ago was on the cover of every Christian magazine swearing -- uh, I mean vowing -- never to stop hawking Jesus to sell her voice on the open market?

Yup. That's her. And she has seen the light, sister.
(Insert hallelujahs here.)

Somewhere along the line, Amy Grant grew up. Don't know how, but it just seems to have happened.
(More hallelujahs.)

And because of it, she has the opportunity to become the first successful secular artist to come out of the modern wave of contemporary Christian recording artists.

She's good, and she deserves a shot. We don't think too much about secular artists who profess to have deep religious beliefs. If we like their music, we buy it. We certainly know that many popular singers came out of the gospel tradition. So why can't a devout born-again Christian make it in the secular contemporary-music world? No reason.

Interestingly, the big ''secular'' mass of record buyers aren't the ones giving Grant grief. It's those Christians always characterized by Grant as so loving, understanding and alive in the spirit of Jesus. Some of them think she has sold out in hopes of fame and money. I have news for them: Christian recording labels aren't non-profit institutions. They, too, try to promote stars and make money.

Still squeaky-clean

Besides, it's not like Grant has taken up smoking or succumbed to drugs and alcohol. Make no mistake about it, Grant retains that squeaky-clean image of wife and mother. One can only hope she will evolve into a new kind of model for the more fundamentalist Christian. She can show that even being a born-again Christian isn't a mandate to separate oneself from the secular world.

Maybe she can show that when you're born again, you don't have to talk about it all the time, to everyone. And she can show that not all born-agains deserve to be labeled as religious fanatics.

On the other hand, the secular-music industry must be careful not to hold Grant's type of Christianity against her career. From what I hear, the music industry can be brutal.

Hang in there, Amy. I can't wait to see your next video.

The Arizona Republic
May 18, 1991
By Kim Sue Lia Perkes, Republic Religion Editor

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