With a career that has spanned four decades and made her a beloved entertainer for fans of Christian, pop, and country music, Amy Grant has done it all. Having hosted television shows and touring the country as her musical career continued to soar, Grant became ubiquitous to even those who watched VH-1, with her hits “Baby Baby” and “Every Heartbeat” bringing her admirers from all over the music spectrum.
But if anything becomes obvious when one speaks to Grant, it’s that she isn’t particularly interested in talking about all of that. She’d rather talk about family.
Grateful for the Simplicity
“I’m just still busy trying to live my life,” she said when asked about the diversity of her audience. “I just thank God I didn’t come up during the era of social media or even The Voice. I’m grateful for the simplicity, the privacy. I’ve spent a lot of time being busy, and I’ve worked hard. I’m so grateful that my family life is so normal. But I don’t have the energy to live life and then report on it.”
She sees the difference in the younger generation of her family. That family took shape about 20 years ago when she and singer-songwriter Vince Gill, each divorced and already parents, brought together Grant’s three children and Gill’s daughter Jenny to form a new family, one that eventually included a daughter they had together.
“I am so inspired by Jenny Gill who is the oldest of our children,” Grant said. “She’ll be with me in Wabash, and she’ll be singing with me. She does the high parts so now when those high notes come along, I send it right over to her. But she loves filming things and is starting to do that a lot. She’s a great songwriter and singer, but she really loves editing. I just cheer her on and applaud her energy to be able to do that.”
With her kids being the best hope fans have to catch candid moments on social media, Grant is much more likely to talk about music as a gift to be enjoyed than to tout her own list of hits.
Leaning on her Family
“I’m so grateful I had a sister who was about six-and-a-half years older than I am. I loved all the music that I heard coming from her room. Mimi loved music, and I remember when we went to visit her when she was in college, and I was in seventh grade or so. We saw the Beach Boys in this really cool theater in Boston. And she loved records and had everything from Elvis Presley to Pure Prairie League, Jethro Tull, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Joni Mitchell. I’m so glad I had an older sister who loved music. Thinking about her right now, I wonder if she still listens to those records?
“You know, music is such a gamechanger,” she continued. “I have a niece that bounces all over the emotional spectrum. We have a big family. When we all get together with our spouses and kids, there are about 50 of us. The last time we all got together at the farm, I took a little portable turntable and a couple of boxes of 45s. My niece showed up and immediately said, ‘I’m not staying. Just here to say hi. Just stopping by for a minute then I’m out of here!’ Everyone should have someone like that in their family. But by then I had set up the turntable, and as she was announcing her quick departure, she saw it and said ‘Records?’ Suddenly I’m the DJ, and we’re having a 30-minute dance party with three generations.”
Asked about the upcoming release of a special vinyl set of her Christmas recordings, she’s again less than interested.
“That’s a record company thing,” she said.
She does briefly discuss her upcoming Christmas shows with Michael W. Smith following this current solo tour, but once again the subject of family becomes much more important to her.
“In the middle of all of that we have a wedding,” she said. “My daughter is getting married in November, and we already had a wedding in the family four months ago. So there’s all of that to do before I even get to the Christmas shows.
“What I love about our family is how everybody is getting along,” she said, no doubt prompted by the topic of marriage. “I love my family, and I tell my kids if they survived their mother, they’ll survive anything. I tend to have a hyper-focus, and whatever is my focus gets everything I’ve got, and what I’m not focused on falls into a black hole. One of the gifts that I believe was divinely given to me was a woman named Phyllis. When my son Matthew was born 32 years ago, I was trying to find a nanny, and Phyllis came along and said, ‘I will stay until the end.’ Now 32 years have passed, and I’m so grateful to her for her companionship. Nothing happens without a lot of help, and I told her recently, ‘You have outlasted every man in my life.’”
Taking some personal time
Gill is making headway to matching her nanny’s record, however. The pair received a lot of publicity when, following their divorces, they came together to create their blended family. Grant is happy it all happened, no matter what the circumstances.
“I want to live my life beside this man,” she said of Gill. “It was messy, and it was rocky getting through it all. But before that I felt like I was swimming underwater with no oxygen tank. Even now with the discovery of how important Jenny is to me, I think back to pictures of us when we got married and all of those grim-faced children. It takes time, and you have to let everybody come to it in their own space and do it respectfully. But it happens.”
When asked if she has any recording projects or other work plans for 2020, Grant becomes philosophical and unweaves a plan that would make anyone want to toss their lives aside and hit the road with her, with her love of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley as the guidebook and a custom RV gifted to her by Gill as the wheels.
“I turn 59 this Thanksgiving weekend so that launches my 60th year,” she said. “I’ve talked for the last three years about wanting to travel the country alone or with friends. I’ve talked about it so much that my band bought me three $500 gas cards so I’d just do it. I want to travel around and see this beautiful country that I’ve been traveling for 40 years, but I’ve just been driving back and forth. I want to just go see it and be under the radar for awhile and write and reflect.”
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