Amy Grant is a Southern girl who makes us all proud: Not only is she smart and attractive, she is an awesome vocalist and an equally awesome wife and mom whose commitment to philanthropic endeavors is truly impressive. Her career spans over 25 years—from her roots in gospel music to her emergence as the first lady of the contemporary Christian genre, to her undeniable claim to the title pop star—and in that time, Amy has sold over 30 million albums and has won six Grammys. If you have not listened to her most current release, How Mercy Looks from Here, it’s a must. We may have waited a decade for Amy to release a new album, but it was worth every minute.
Amy Grant has earned the respect of community leaders in her hometown of Nashville and fans everywhere, especially all of us who can’t wait to see her annual Christmas concert with husband Vince Gill.
What are your earliest childhood memories of growing up in Nashville?
Some of my earliest childhood memories of growing up in Nashville are going to Centennial Park and feeding the ducks, eating at the Krystal on West End and spinning on their red leather counter stools. I spent a lot of time at my great-grandparents’ (Mr. and Mrs. A.M Burton) farm, which was called Seven Hills and is now Burton Hills. We spent a lot of time in the Hillsboro Village area. We went to church at Hillsboro Church of Christ, which was located on the corner of Hillsboro and Ashwood. We would go to Jones Pet Shop before it was Fido’s (the pet shop sign is still there). I remember seeing the symphony when they played at War Memorial before we had TPAC or Schermerhorn. My parents were season ticket holders for Vanderbilt basketball games so I have a lot of memories of going to those games and being stuck in traffic after games. One game in particular stands out, as there was a snow storm during the game and because traffic was at a stand still people got out of their cars and had snow ball fights. I went to Parmer Elementary school which burned down and is now Parmer Park.
At what age did you know that you wanted to be a singer?
I have always loved music. I was 15 when I decided I wanted to be a songwriter and that led the way to singing, but songwriting was always my first love.
Who was an early mentor to you?
An early mentor to me was my cousin, Glenda Higgins. She was a school teacher at JT Moore [a middle school in Nashville]. She loved language, taught me grammar, and read me poetry when I was little.
How do you balance your busy life with a high profile husband and several children?
The pattern of a music career is that my work comes in cycles — cycles of touring, cycles of writing, and cycles of recording. At this stage of the game, we only have one child at home, so these years don’t feel like the sleep deprivation years of the early 90s. Like everyone else, there are times when I feel overwhelmed with the commitments on my plate and I just try to prioritize and not be too hard on myself.
If you could have selected another career, what would it be?
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
During those heavy workload, sleep deprived years of the early 1990s, my mother-in-law, Mary Chapman, suggested I pray this simple prayer every day “Lord, lead me today to those I need and to those who need me and let something I do have eternal significance. Amen.” That simple prayer continually reboots my anticipation and openness about what a day might hold.
Your record for philanthropy in Nashville is incredible. What motivates you to give back as much as you do?
I learned from my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents that the most important part of being in a community is giving back. Some of my favorite memories with friends are times when we rolled up our sleeves and really invested ourselves with somebody that needed our help. It is fun to be pushed out of your comfort zone and it is also incredibly gratifying to do something for someone else.
What meal at a local restaurant has recently wowed you the most?
The lamb special at Kalamata’s.
If you could change one thing about Nashville, what would it be?
I wish we had better public transportation and greenways. Also, although I know we have a thriving Rescue Mission that does everything they can do to help the homeless and I am so proud of their work, I do wish we had fewer homeless.
What books are on your bedside table?
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
I like exploring new places. We go to Destin and Snowmass most regularly, but honestly, staying home sounds pretty good when you travel for work as much as I do.
Is there something our readers would be surprised to know about you?
I held the record for the longest time between washing my hair (14 days) at my all-girls high school. My niece broke my record.
Do you have any irrational fears?
I have a bridge phobia that is clearly attached to my fear of heights. Also, I have never been able to mountain bike on a skinny trail because I feel claustrophobic.
What are 3 things you can’t live without, excluding God, family and friends?
Music, being outdoors and good food.
Be sure and pick up the November issue of Nashville Lifestyles to read even more questions Amy answered for this FACES interview.
For information about Amy’s upcoming concerts, including Christmas concerts in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Nashville, visit her website: amygrant.com.
And, to check out her newest release, see: How Mercy Looks from Here
Photos today are courtesy of Jim Wright.