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artist information

Amy Grant

Amy Lee Grant (born November 25, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her Contemporary Christian music and pop music, as well as an author and occasional actress.

Grant made her debut in 1977 as a teenager, and scored her first number-one Christian radio hit two years later. In 1982, she released her breakthrough album, Age to Age, which became the first Contemporary Christian music album to be certified platinum.

By 1985, her music began to reach a wider audience, when her album Unguarded crossed over onto mainstream charts. This feat was reproduced in 1991 when her album Heart In Motion became a best-seller and the single "Baby Baby" became a number one pop hit.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Grant continued to record pop-oriented albums and did not make another full gospel album until 2002, with the record Legacy...Hymns and Faith. In 2006, Grant hosted her own reality television show on NBC, called Three Wishes.

As of 2007, Grant remains the best-selling Contemporary Christian music singer, having sold over 30 million units worldwide, and Heart in Motion is her best selling album, which has exceeded sales of 5 million.

Career

Beginnings

After she signed to a record company at the age of sixteen, Amy Grant's first, self-titled album (largely self-composed) in 1977, was a runaway success in terms of the Christian music market of the time. A graduate of Harpeth Hall School and an English major at Furman University and later Vanderbilt University, Grant made a few more albums before dropping out of college to pursue a career in music. These albums included 1979's My Father's Eyes (the title track written by Grant's future first husband, singer-songwriter Gary Chapman) and Never Alone in 1980. During the 1970s, Amy was also a backup singer for Bill Gaither, and the Bill Gaither Trio.

1982 marked a turning point in both Grant's career and her personal life. After she married Chapman in June, her album Age to Age forced critics to notice. The breakthrough album contained the signature track, "El Shaddai" (written by Michael Card) and the Grant-Chapman penned song, "In A Little While". Grant received her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Gospel Performance, as well as two GMA Dove Awards for Gospel Artist of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year. Age to Age became the first Christian album by a solo artist to be certified gold (1983) and the first Christian album to be certified platinum (1985).

In the mid-1980s, Grant began touring and recording with young up-and-coming songwriter Michael W. Smith. Grant and Smith continue to have a strong friendship and creative relationship, often writing songs for or contributing vocals to each other's albums. "El Shaddai" was later awarded one of the "Songs of the Century" by the RIAA in 2001.

Grant followed up this album with the first of her Christmas albums - albums that later would be the basis for her trademark holiday shows. In 1984, she released another pop-oriented Christian hit, Straight Ahead, earning Grant her first appearance at the Grammy Awards show.

Widening audience

Hardly had Grant established herself as the "Queen of Christian Pop", however, when she changed directions to widen her fan base (and hence her musical message). Her goal was to become the first Christian singer-songwriter who was also successful as a contemporary pop singer. Unguarded (1985) shocked some fans for its very mainstream sound (and Grant's leopard-print jacket, in four poses for four different covers). "Find a Way," from Unguarded, became the first Christian song to hit Billboard's Top 40 list, also reaching #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Amy Grant scored her first Billboard Number One hit in 1986 with "The Next Time I Fall", a duet with former Chicago singer/bassist Peter Cetera. That year, she also recorded a duet with singer Randy Stonehill for his Love Beyond Reason album, entitled "I Could Never Say Goodbye", and recorded The Animals' Christmas with Art Garfunkel.

Lead Me On (1988) contained many songs that were about Christianity and love relationships, but some interpreted it as not being an obviously "Christian" record. Years later, Lead Me On was be chosen as the greatest Contemporary Christian album of all time by CCM Magazine. The mainstream song "Saved by Love" was a minor hit, receiving airplay on radio stations featuring the newly emerging Adult Contemporary format. The album's title song received some pop radio airplay and crossed over to #96 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "1974 (We Were Young)" and "Saved By Love" also charted as Adult Contemporary songs.

1990s

Nevertheless, when Heart in Motion was released three years later, many fans were shocked and outraged that the album was so clearly one of contemporary pop music. Amy's desire to widen her audience was frowned upon by the confines of the popular definitions of "ministry" at the time. The track "Baby Baby" (written for Grant's newborn daughter, Millie, whose "six week old face was my inspiration,") however, became a massive hit (hitting number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart), and Grant was established as a name in the mainstream music world. "Baby Baby" received Grammy nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record and Song of the Year (although it failed to win in any of those categories). Four other hits from the album made the Pop top 20: "Every Heartbeat" (#2), "That's What Love Is For" (#7), "Good For Me" (#8), and "I Will Remember You" (#20). On the Adult Contemporary chart, all five songs were top 10 hits with two of the five ("Baby Baby" and "That's What Love Is For") making it all the way to #1. Many Christian fans remained loyal, since the album also topped the Billboard's Contemporary Christian Chart for 32 weeks. Heart in Motion is her best-selling album, having sold over 5 million copies according to the RIAA. She followed this album with her second Christmas album, Home For Christmas, in 1992, containing "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)", written by Chris Eaton and Grant,which was later covered by many artists, including Donna Summer, Jessica Simpson (who acknowledged (Grant) as one of her favorite artists), Vince Gill, Sara Groves, Point of Grace, and Broadway star Barbara Cook.

House of Love in 1994 continued in the same vein, boasting catchy pop songs mingled with spiritual lyrics. The album was a multi-platinum success and produced the pop hit "Lucky One" (#18 pop and #2 AC; #1 on Radio & Records) as well as the title track (a duet with country music star and future husband Vince Gill) (#37 pop) and a cover of Joni Mitchell's frequently-covered "Big Yellow Taxi" (#67 pop).

She participated in Lifetime's 1st Annual "Girls & Guitars" benefit, singing numerous songs, including a duet with Melissa Etheridge on "You Sleep While I Drive".

After she covered the 10cc song "The Things We Do For Love" for the Mr. Wrong soundtrack, Behind the Eyes (1997) was released in September. The album struck a much darker note, leaning more towards downtempo, acoustic soft-rock songs with more mature (yet still optimistic) lyrics. She called it her "razor blades and Prozac" album. Although "Takes A Little Time" was a moderate hit single, the album failed to sell like the previous two albums which had both gone multi-platinum. Behind The Eyes was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA. The video for "Takes A Little Time" was certainly a new direction for Grant; with a blue light filter, acoustic guitar, the streets and characters of New York City, and a plot, Amy was re-cast as an adult light rocker. She followed up "Behind The Eyes" with A Christmas To Remember, her third Christmas album, in 1999. The album was certified Gold in 2000.

Grant and Chapman separated and divorced in 1999 . In 2000, Grant married Vince Gill, who had divorced country singer Janis Gill of Sweethearts of the Rodeo.

2000s

After giving birth to her fourth child Corinna Grant Gill, Grant returned to her gospel music roots with the 2002 release of Legacy...Hymns and Faith. The album featured a Vince Gill-influenced mix of bluegrass and gospel and marked Grant's 25th anniversary in the music industry. Grant followed this up with the pop release Simple Things in 2003. The album did not have the success of her previous pop or gospel efforts. However, soon after Simple Things, Grant and Interscope/A&M parted ways. True to all of her work, spiritual themes weave in and out of the everyday experience. The same year, Grant was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association, an industry trade organization of which she is a longstanding member, in her first year of eligibility.

Grant released a sequel to her hymns collection in 2005 titled Rock of Ages... Hymns & Faith. Although neither of her latest hymn releases have captured the popularity of her previous gospel career, Grant still remains a popular concert draw and enjoys popularity amongst both fan bases. For years in the 1990s and early 2000s, she toured in November and December for her Christmas and holiday tours. Often her husband and many special guests performed along with her on stage. Grant is known for her live performances of many of her hit songs. She also has been known to perform songs of fellow female vocalists, most notably, "Save the Best for Last", made famous by Vanessa Williams, which she covers at most large venues. The friendship between the two singers has been commented about by both in many interviews and Vanessa Williams has performed "Baby Baby" on many occassions. No cover songs performed live by Amy Grant have been recorded for album release.

Grant joined the reality television phenomenon by hosting Three Wishes, a show in which she and a team of helpers make wishes come true for small-town residents. The show debuted on NBC in the fall of 2005 and was cancelled at the end of its first season because of high production costs. After Three Wishes was cancelled, Grant won her 6th Grammy Award for Rock of Ages... Hymns & Faith. In a February 2006 webchat, Amy stated she believes her "best music is still ahead".

In April 2006, a live CD/DVD entitled Time Again...Amy Grant Live was recorded in Fort Worth, Texas, at Bass Performance Hall. (Grant's first paid public performance was at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth, TX.) The concert was released on September 26, 2006. In addition to receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, media appearances included write-ups in CCM Magazine and a performance on The View.

In a February 2007 web chat on her web site, Amy discussed a book she is working on entitled "Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far": "It’s not an autobiography, but more a collection of memories, song lyrics, poetry and a few pictures." The book is scheduled to release in the fall of 2007. In the same web chat, Amy noted that she is "anxious to get back in the studio after the book is finished and reinvent myself as an almost 50 performing woman."