Amy Grant: The Nashville-based singer with her 14th album

Saturday 1st October 1994

Jan Willem Vink reports on CCM star AMY GRANT who has recently released the 'House Of Love' album

Amy Grant
Amy Grant

Anya Krause, John Rivers and Chris Tozer spoke with Amy in Nashville and London. They discussed 'House Of Love' and delved deep into the life of Christian music's premier artist. It's been a long way for Amy from recording a demo of a couple of her songs for her parents to becoming one of the most visible and well known Christians throughout the world. Normally people seem to change in the process of becoming a celebrity, but in Amy's case she seems to eminate a girl-next-door ordinariness. The things Amy appears to enjoy most are simple things: being a mother of three, a good talk in a rocking chair on the farm and having family and friends around.

Combining motherhood with a hectic showbiz career isn't the easiest path to take. Somehow, Amy manages to do so and the pleasure she gets from being a mother and homemaker is clearly celebrated on 'House Of Love'. Says Amy, "The records that I make tend to be reflections of life, my life at the time of making that record. 'House Of Love' is a holistic approach to life. I talk about relationships, children, eternity. But it's not really a heavy record. This is a really sweet time in life and the album reflects that I am celebrating the good things."

Amy further explains, "I feel really settled now. My family is in full swing. I've got some really simple parameters around my life. Basically, I'm married and have three children and that spells out how I spend my days," says Amy of her marriage to singer/songwriter Gary Chapman and their children. "I know hard times are going to come - being from a big family you have potential multiple tragedy, but also multiplied happiness. But these are just really sweet times for me and my whole family. My parents are alive. Gary's parents are alive, and all the siblings and kids; everybody is doing great. We feel very blessed."

"I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture and I do feel a great amount of contentment, but I also feel the struggle with the passage of time. There is something so exciting about being at the point in your life where nothing is decided for you, when you've just graduated from high school and are embarking on your life, like my nieces. Their questions are, 'Who will I be?', 'What will I do?', 'Who will I marry?' 'Where will I live?' I am 33 and I look at the big choices in my life and basically, they've been decided. There are times that bring a lot of contentment to me, and there are times which bring a lot of pain. That may sound very odd, but to see how quickly life goes by brings a bitter sweetness to it."

When asked what the biggest changes have been since the release of 'Home For Christmas' Amy responds, "Probably the biggest change has been Gary's career. It's not that he wasn't doing music the whole time; he just suddenly has demands on his time that works on our schedules. And three kids is different, three is different from two. You're completely outnumbered."

Another element that contributed in a big way to the recording of 'House Of Love' was it being recorded in Amy's hometown Nashville. "I think it kind of works for and against me a little bit. Like today I was running late and if I had been taking a plane to Dallas I wouldn't have been late. But because I was here I was getting one last hug from Sarah, I couldn't find my hairbrush, I couldn't find a safety pin, I have my whole house to get lost in, so I'm late, continually, to the studio here, but at least I can just walk out the back door. That's nice.

"I can't remember what song it was, but we cut one vocal and Lori McAllister, who handles my mail, came down and said, 'I just want to get this on film!' She was taking some close-ups while I was singing and then said, 'This is just what most people know is happening. What I wanted to get was the wide angle.' She backed off to the other side of the studio and my daughter Millie was there with me, sprawled out on her stomach, with crayons and a colouring book. She might have had headphones on, but probably taken them off at that point. She just wanted to be with me. I said, 'Well, I'm doing the vocals, so if you go, you can't talk, they're recording all this.' I know what it was like doing those vocals. These kids were hanging around."

Another change from her former albums is that Keith Thomas and Michael Omartian produced 'House Of Love'. This is the first album which Brown Bannister did not, in part at least, produce. "Brown was very instrumental in collecting the songs and putting me with different songwriters," comments Amy. "For instance, Tommy Simms, with whom I wrote the song 'Children Of The World'. Brown was also involved as executive producer. The strength that Michael Omartian and Keith Thomas bring to the table is their arrangement capabilities and I really wanted to maximise that potential. When we mastered the album Brown could come in with fresh ears, because he hadn't listened to every song every day, and put the final touch on the album."

There are various highlights on the album. The song "Children Of The World" will no doubt be one of the songs to be enjoyed most in the Christian community. It is a very emotional song for Amy, herself being a mother of three. "'Children Of The World' is really close to my heart because I have children and I think that the greatest thing we can pass on to our children is the legacy of character that they observe in those early years, and then give them a firm footing to live their life. (She smiles.) I didn't realise that having kids was going to mean that I would have a constant commentary on my life... Matt does.

"The other night I was running bathwater for my son Matt, who is six, and just out of the blue he said, 'You know, you really lose temper, but you get over it fast.' Children are so honest! We weren't in the middle of a fight. We didn't lose our tempers. I had a mother who didn't lose her temper and I thought, 'Ah! I'm on uncharted territory here...' It frightens

me, but I do lose my temper. But Matt was sitting there, thinking about it. What compelled him to think about that? It was taking up airtime enough in his brain that he had to say it out loud. Oh! What are we doing?"

Amy breaks loose and starts sharing all sorts of experiences with her kids. "Gary's mom and dad live here on the farm with us and I have been very busy in the studio and travelling. I was taking the kids out on a walk and Matt said, 'Let's go to grandma's house.' I said okay. He was quiet for a minute and then said, 'You don't go over there very much.' When he said that, it was so painful because I realised that my schedule dictates so many of the choices in my life, and he just struck a nerve with me because I love my parents-in-law. And then he said, 'Why do you have that mean look on your face?' I said, 'I'm not feeling mean thoughts, I'm just sad that life is flying by and I can't make it stop. And I miss sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs and talking. I can't get these days back so I feel sad. Let's go over there right now.' I came home and called my girlfriend saying, 'Who gave him the right to kind of have ongoing commentary!' She said, 'Brace yourself.' It's very humbling being a parent."

Amy continued, "This is another off the beaten path. Who cares about this record? It's already done. I was snuggling with Matt and Millie the other night in bed. Matt's six and a half and Millie's four and a half. Millie said she can't say r's, which is wonderful. She said, 'When I'm glown up, when I'm a mothel, I'm not going to wolk.' I'm sitting there thinking, here comes another commentary! I said, 'You're not going to work?' and she said, 'No. I'm just going to have childlen and I'm not wolking.' I said, 'Really. Are you saying that because it bothers you that I work?' 'No.' Then she said, 'I will not have an office next to my house.' We have an office next to the house. I said, 'Why are you thinking that?' 'If I have an office, I have to go in there and wolk, wolk, wolk.' (Amy laughs.) I said, 'Honey, don't build it, don't ever build that office. But everybody works, you work when you're a mommy.'

"I was kind of probing a little bit. 'Are you sure you don't have a problem with my singing, because I was singing before you were born, that's kind of who I am...' She said, 'No, I'm fine.'

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Reader Comments

Posted by Don @ 21:12 on Aug 6 2011

Hey, really enjoyed reading this article, got a few chuckles, thanks. I also like "Children of the World", it was the first song from the cd ccm radio played.
Boy, have the years flown by since the release of it.
We are meant to flourish where we are planted, and Amy does not leave GOD out as many would presume.
I really like her hymn projects and her classic ccm songs. I would really like to hear her do another great ccm album like "Straight Ahead" or "Age to Age". Thanks Amy, we are blessed by your music.

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