If you want to know Amy Grant's story, all you really have to do is listen to her songs. From the first time she picked up a guitar as a teenager and sang for her school friends, to the albums she's recorded that have racked up multiplatinum awards, Amy's always found a musical way to share her life. And in the process, she's not only become an icon in Christian music (and could, in fact, be credited with launching the genre) but also one of the most celebrated artists in pop music today.
Music was always a part of Amy Grant's life. She can still recall the thrill of a cappella singing at her family's Church of Christ services and later, as a teenager, discovering a freer musical expression with the young people in her school and church. In fact, one of Grant's first performances was at a chapel service for her fellow students. The event was pivotal for Amy -- it unveiled not only a musical talent, but a true gift of connecting with her peers. From that day on, Amy Grant was marked as an artist, a role model, a kindred spirit and a seeker. Through the next 25 years none of those titles ever faded away.
Although Amy Grant is truly a daughter of Nashville, she was actually born in Augusta, Georgia in 1960 during her father's doctor's residency there. Amy was still a baby when the family returned to Nashville. The youngest of four daughters, Amy and her sisters (Mimi, Kathy and Carol) grew up in a home of privilege, strong family loyalty and fervent religious faith. In church she learned the hymns and stories that would inspire both her life and her music. During her years at Nashville's most prestigious private schools, those inspirations found a home and an outlet as Amy began dabbling with songwriting and performing.
A Star Is "Discovered"
Like a Hollywood story, Amy's break into music came while she worked part-time sweeping floors and demagnetizing tapes in a Nashville studio. Her friend, producer Brown Bannister, allowed her to use the studio to duplicate a tape of her original songs that she wanted to give to her family. A Word Records company producer heard the music and, charged with finding new talent in Nashville, felt he had just "found it" and played the tape over the phone for his company executives. The seventeen-year-old was signed almost immediately.
Amy's first album, the aptly named, AMY GRANT, introduced the world to a fresh-faced and fresh-voiced young woman with a contagious faith and engaging spirit. Contemporary Christian music was still an undefined amalgam of gospel music, church hymns and the more provocative Jesus Music movement, but somehow this new foray that seemed to combine all three elements found a quick home. AMY GRANT the album, was a hit. And so was the woman who recorded it. Amy soon found herself traveling and singing across the country in churches, festivals, camps and schools. More albums followed in her burgeoning new musical career. FATHER'S EYES in 1979, introduced her to Gary Chapman, the title cut's songwriter and soon her opening act on tour for the following album, NEVER ALONE. Gary and Amy married in 1982. Two live albums (the second recorded with popular gospel rockers Degarmo and Key as her backup band) pushed Amy's musical envelope from her folky, singer-songwriter style into an edgier pop/rock category. It didn't matter to listeners. Christian music was growing. Amy Grant was the leader and fans were following every step of the way.