Born c. 1961 in Augusta, GA; daughter of Burton Grant (a radiologist); married Gary Chapman, June 1982, divorced 1999; married Vince Gill, March 2000; children: Matthew, Millie, Sarah (with Chapman), Corinna (with Gill.). Education: Attended Furman University and Vanderbilt University. Addresses: Record company--A&M Records, 1416 North La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Website--Amy Grant Official Website: http://www.amygrant.com.
Amy Grant was one of the first Christian singers to attract the attention of mainstream pop music fans. After gaining prominence in the early 1980s for her gospel songs, her 1985 album Unguarded propelled her into the realm of pop stardom. Grant and her back-up band have appeared in concert throughout the United States, garnering a steady following. Her award-winning albums have sold in the millions and engendered hit singles and videos. Grant has appeared often on talk shows and has been featured on a televised Christmas special.
The youngest of four daughters of a prominent radiologist, Grant was born in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Nashville, where she and her family attended the local Church of Christ. She did not become particularly interested in music until her teenage years, when she taught herself to play the guitar and began to write songs. She never had a formal music teacher. While attending Harpeth Hall, an exclusive girl's prep school, Grant worked part-time at a recording studio, demagnetizing tapes and doing janitorial chores. She used the facilities at hand to make a tape for her parents of her own songs, which she accompanied on guitar. Unknown to Grant, someone at the Texas-based Word Records heard the tape, and she was later approached about recording an album.
Released in 1976 on Word Records imprint Myrrh, Grant's self-titled debut album became an immediate bestseller in the field of Christian music. During the following years, the teenage singer tried to balance a recording career with her education. After graduating from Harpeth Hall, she attended Furman University in South Carolina before transferring to Vanderbilt University, where she majored in English. At this stage in her budding career, Grant performed solo in churches to her own guitar accompaniment. Two of her albums culled from concert performances became best sellers in their field.
The late 1970s and early 1980s marked a period of striking change in both the personal and professional aspects of Grant's life. In 1979, she met her future husband, guitarist and songwriter Gary Chapman, who would later become a member of Grant's ten-piece touring band. While at Vanderbilt University in 1983, she recorded Age to Age, the first of her albums to see sales figures rise dramatically. With such promising indications of a successful performance career, Grant dropped out of college to become a professional singer.
In 1985 Word Records signed a distribution deal with A&M Records to launch various gospel artists. Grant was one of them. With its synthesized sound and upbeat songs expressing subtle Christian lyrics, her album Unguarded received much airplay and sold more than a million copies. When the single "Find a Way" hit the pop charts, and a duet with Peter Cetera, "The Next Time I Fall," topped Billboard's pop chart in 1987, Grant garnered criticism from some Christians who thought that in her quest for success, she had lost sight of her spiritual roots. Grant countered by suggesting that her songs need not mention Jesus by name in order to portray the message of love that he taught. Critics generally maintain that in concert, Grant aims to entertain her audience; she does not overtly attempt to convert listeners to Christianity.
At the end of the tour to promote Unguarded, Grant and her entourage needed a rest. Following a three-year recording hiatus, she released the 1988 album Lead Me On, which represents an even further departure from Grant's previous efforts. Unlike the upbeat synthesized sound of Unguarded, Lead Me On primarily utilizes acoustic instrumentation, and the songs revolve around somber themes. The album reflects many of Grant's concerns during her absence from the concert stage: accusations that she had sold out her faith, the trauma of a miscarriage, a difficult period in her marriage that was overcome through counseling, and the birth of her son, Matthew. Because none of its songs lent themselves readily to radio airplay, the album was largely ignored by radio stations. Nonetheless, Grant's following remained loyal.
Grant made a distinct attempt to find a place in the pop market with her 1991 release Heart in Motion, which contains songs that contemplate the earthly side of human love. "I did that for a few different reasons," she told Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times. "I have invested so much of my time and creative energy [in] writing contemporary Christian songs, and I was really wanting to try something new." To answer her critics in the Christian community she added, "It had nothing to do with a loss of faith or change of lifestyle.... I think that Christians, no matter where they are, should be the same person whether they're singing Gospel music or writing and performing a pop album.... We just ought to get out there and live life and be true to what we believe, and for those of us that write, just let what we do reflect that."
Fans had a chance to see Grant's efforts portrayed on the small screen as well. When her video "Baby, Baby" aired on MTV, it caused considerable controversy and sparked both positive and negative criticism. The song was inspired by Grant's daughter Millie, but in the video Grant is seen singing romantically to a handsome actor--not her husband, with whom Grant has often performed in concert. In spite of the uproar surrounding the release, Heart in Motion brought Grant several 1992 Grammy nominations and a legion of new listeners.
Despite rumors of trouble in her marriage, Grant recorded House of Love in 1994, which included a duet hit of the title song with country superstar Vince Gill. The album continued to showcase Grant as both a contemporary pop artist as well as a Christian singer. It also indicated that her life was full of both domestic and spiritual peace.
For her fifteenth release in 1997, Behind the Eyes had Grant back to the beginning, singing solo with her guitar, but with a darker side. Grant had always had a tendency to pour her own soul into her music, and her true fans could tell things were not going well in her personal life. The album received positive reviews from the critics, but did not sell as well as previous albums due to it's darker nature.
In 1999, Grant divorced Gary Chapman. Then, in March of 2000, she married her longtime musical partner, Vince Gill. Some of her judgmental Christian audience was shocked and some Christian radio stations stopped playing her songs, and Christian bookstores pulled her material from their shelves. Grant took a beating in the tabloids. Grant took time off from her musical career and concentrated on finding out what was right for her. Her inner strength was tested, but she finally found peace.
In 2001, she gave birth to a daughter, Corinna. She also released a new album, Legacy ... Hymns & Faith in 2002. Then, Grant came back to pouring her life into an album when she released Simple Things in 2003. The album included songs like "Out in the Open," and "I Don't Know Why" that showed her internal struggles and resolutions over the previous years. Through the decades, Grant's albums and music showcase development and growth in many ways. Her musical talent matured as well as her spirituality and individuality. This growth and diversity continue to attract listeners.
by Jeanne M. Lesinski and Sarah Parkin
Amy Grant's Career
Released Amy Grant, 1977, after being discovered at age 16; released My Father's Eyes, 1979; released Never Alone, 1980; released Age to Age, 1983; released Straight Ahead,1984; released Unguarded, 1985; launched by A&M Records, 1985; crossed over to top Billboard's pop chart, 1987; released Heart in Motion, 1991; sales dropped following her divorce from Gary Chapman, 1999; hosted television special Christmas to Remember, 1999; starred in television movie A Song From the Heart, released Legacy ... Hymns & Faith, 2002; released Simple Things, 2003.
Amy Grant's Awards
Grammy Award, Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary, 1982; Grammy Award, Best Gospel Performance, Female, 1983; Dove Awards, Artist of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Age to Age, 1983; Grammy Award, Best Gospel Performance, Female, 1984; Grammy Award, Best Gospel Performance, Female, 1985; Grammy Award, Best Gospel Performance, Female, 1988; Dove Award, Short Form Music Video of the Year for "Stay For a While," 1988; Dove Awards, Artist of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for "Lead Me On," 1989; Dove Award, Country Recorded Song of the Year, "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," 1990; Dove Award, Song of the Year, "Place in this World," Artist of the Year, 1992; Dove Award, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Behind the Eyes, 1998; Dove Awards, Inspirational Album for Legacy ... Hymns & Faith, Country Recorded Song of the Year for "The River's Gonna Keep On Rolling," 2003.
- Selected discography
- Amy Grant Word, 1976.
- My Father's Eyes Word, 1977.
- Never Alone Word, 1978.
- Amy Grant in Concert Word, 1979.
- Amy Grant in Concert II Word, 1980.
- Age to Age Word, 1983.
- A Christmas Album Word, 1983.
- Straight Ahead A&M, 1984.
- Unguarded A&M, 1985.
- Amy Grant: The Collection A&M, 1986.
- Lead Me On A&M, 1988.
- Heart in Motion A&M, 1991.
- Home for Christmas A&M, 1992.
- House of Love A&M, 1994.
- Behind the Eyes A&M, 1997.
- Legacy ... Hymns & Faith Universal, 2002.
- Simple Things A&M, 2003.
February 8, 2006: Grant won the Grammy Award for best southern, country, or bluegrass gospel album, for Rock of Ages ... Hymns & Faith. Source: Grammy.com, http://grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/Annual_Show/48_nominees.aspx, February 9, 2006.
- Millard, Robert, Amy Grant, Doubleday, 1986.
- Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1986; November 25, 1988.
- Austin American Statesman, November 5, 1988.
- Birmingham News, November 25, 1988.
- Christian Herald, September/October 1991.
- Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), June 26, 1985.
- Focus on the Family Parental Guidance, June 1991.
- Grand Rapids Press, October 14, 1984.
- Indianapolis Star, October 22, 1988.
- Los Angeles Herald Examiner, May 2, 1986.
- Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1991.
- Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), June 14, 1985.
- Nashville Banner, July 28, 1989.
- News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), March 16, 1986.
- New York Daily News, October 7, 1984.
- New York Tribune, July 25, 1989.
- People, July 15, 1991.
- Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), August 9, 1985.
- Providence Journal, October 5, 1984.
- Saturday Evening Post, November/December 1991.
- St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch, October 27, 1988.
- Tennessean (Nashville, TN), August 3, 1985; December 14, 1986; October 15, 1988.
- Today's Christian Woman, May/June 1991.
- Tulsa World, March 16, 1986.
- "Amy Grant," Christianity Today Website, http://www.christianitytoday.com (March 18, 2004).
- "Amy Grant," Dove Awards Website, http://www.doveawards.com (April 25, 2004).
- Amy Grant Official Website, http://www.amygrant.com (March 18, 2004).
- Recording Academy Grammy Awards, http://www.grammy.com (April 25, 2004).