Amy Grant: CCM icon with a heart in motion

Saturday 1st June 1991

Has Amy sold out or sold in? To find out Thorn Grainger spoke to AMY GRANT at her Nashville home.

With "Baby Baby" nestling at number one in the American pop charts, Amy Grant is back with a monumental bang. After a three-year gap between albums, during which time baby no. 2 was born, Amy has rocketed back with the synth-pop Top 20 radio sound of the 'Heart In Motion' album.

The Nashville-born singer with the poise and a bone structure of a top fashion model clearly still has a voice which conveys as one critic described "peaches and cream sweetness on a middle-of-the-road ballad yet can be raunchily funky on a get-up-and-dance rocker'. Even before the current undreamed heights of pop success Amy has been the front-runner in the ever-increasing popularity of contemporary Christian music.

Signed to Word Records in 1977 at the tender age of 17, each album gained Amy Christian radio success until in 1982, she recorded 'Age To Age', acknowledged by all and sundry as a classic, staying in the Christian music charts for eight years and going platinum. Her subsequent 'Straight Ahead', 'Unguarded' and 'The Collection' all joined the same mega-sales bracket and she had a number one pop single as guest duetist with ex-Chicago man Peter Cetera. But it was Amy's Christian music following, which was the mainstay of her success and her 1987 album 'Lead Me On' went though it did not produce the expected pop crossover hit. Despite making appearance at the annual glitzy Dove Awards Amy had since then seemingly retired from active involvement in the tours, radio promos and albums of America's Big Buck CCM circuit. Her managers, Reunion bosses Michael Blanton and Dan Harrell, have had to act more like minders than managers, fending off the clamorous attention of America's evangelicalism as Amy and her musician husband Gary Chapman settled into life on their 200-acre farm in Nashville. Amy and Gary have involved themselves with family, community service, family business, youth ministry, songwriting, more extended family, family illness, and oh yes, extending the family - the Chapman's second child Millie was born a year ago in December '89.

Family and "the web and fabric of those relationships" (her words) are at the heart of everything that is Amy Grant. It should be no surprise then, that 'Heart In Motion' is about celebrating those relationships, and yet, the lyrical content may well surprise some, as it is her least religious album to date.

'Heart In Motion' released through Word to Christian retailers, and A&M to the mainstream record stores, is therefore something of an experiment. Though certainly not the first time a Christian has made a pop album (there are a hundred examples from dearol' Cliff to a positive welter of soul artists) it is the first time an artist out of contemporary Christian music has chosen to release what is basically a non-gospel album (save one song) to both markets.

A visit to the Chapman's Riverstone Farm gave us the opportunity to ask what her objectives were in making this album, catch up with some of the events in her life, and allow her to challenge us to get our hearts, in motion.

Thorn: So how is life for Amy Grant these days?

Amy: "On the whole, I feel incredibly sane. This is a real content time of life, and that doesn't mean that I don't crash and burn every couple of days with the appropriate tears of life. But my family are in good health; my dad just had triple bypass surgery, and is coming through it great."

Thorn: That had to a bit of a shake-up.

Amy: "Yeah, but I loved the time at the hospital with my family. I was talking with my sisters recently about how much stock you put in loyalty to your family, but at the end of the day, loyalty didn't help you know them any better, or bring about any fond memories together. My dad's surgery provided a great time to re-focus, and find out how much we enjoy each other's company.

The biggest change in life has been two of the Chapman families moving here. Three years ago, Gary's brother Keith and his wife and kids moved here, then last April Gary's mom and dad moved right here to our farm, and then in September, Gary's sister and husband and two kids moved here. The whole Chapman family and the whole Grant family now reside in Nashville! And the funny thing is, we all get along great.

The other thing I'm constantly thinking of these days is the life that my kids are going to have, and I don't want them to feel like they have to live their lives out in the same manner that we do. Matt (who turns four this year) and Millie might not buy into this system and live on the farm for the rest of their lives. I have to enjoy these days right now for what they are, 'cause this is all we've got."

Thorn: Everything you're talking about is making me think of one song or another on the new album. The theme that seems to present itself is relationships. Was that a conscious concept or just a natural result of your recent thoughts and experiences?

Amy: "The songs were written over an 18-month period, and are very much a product of my life. The only game plan, if there was any, was to make an album that my nieces and nephews would listen to. I have 18 nieces and nephews, and I found it odd that they did not listen to my music, though we listen to a lot of the same things. Why wasn't I making music that spoke to them? That became the challenge of this album.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Don @ 15:22 on Aug 4 2011

I actually have this orginal article for CCM Magazine; it is like ancient now, 20 years ago! Amy's music for me, has always provided a breath of fresh wind. I will play her music, and then one day, a song I've been listening to for a long time hits home; usually a line or two grabs me: the way GOD intended. I really like the way Amy commented about a painter's point of view of an individual liking or disliking their art verses music tastes. It is so true, either you like it or you don't; and if you do not like a painting, you simply just walk away from it. Amy's music has blessed my life beyond words, GOD Bless her for it!

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