Life is good. Amy Grant couldn’t be having a happier 2019. “When my daughter Sarah married on November 9, she came down the aisle flanked by her father, Gary Chapman, on one side and her stepfather, Vince Gill, on the other,” Amy, 59, exclusively reveals to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “All I could think was, ‘Phew, life looks all kinds of ways!’”
It’s quite a turnaround from the ’90s, when the Queen of Christian Pop’s career exploded with crossover hits like “Baby Baby” but her personal life was in turmoil: She was divorcing Gary and falling in love with Vince, whom she wed in 2000. “It was sort of like watching a car wreck in slow motion!” she adds. But today, there’s “so much reconciliation. It’s so beautiful.”
In April, Amy’s daughter Millie, 30, also got married — and her son, Matt, 32 (who works with 27-year-old Sarah’s new husband, Derek Besenius), co-owns LabCanna, a CBD company “which got the first license to process hemp in the state of Tennessee,” Amy reveals. “I’m very proud of them!”
As she unveils her Christmas album box set, the singer opened up about life with Vince and their daughter Corrina, 18; being a grandma of two; and her “faith journey.”
Scroll down for more from Closer Weekly‘s interview with Amy Grant!
What are you up to this Christmas?
I’ve just released a box set of my first three Christmas records. I’ve done four — one in my 20s, 30s, almost 40s and 50s. It’s nuts! Then I have 12 shows with my husband at the Ryman Auditorium at home in Nashville. We’ve done a December residency for several years.
How often do you perform with Vince?
At Christmastime, off and on since 1993. Doing these shows is his gift to me. He would be fine with just one! He is so busy — his new record, Okie, just came out, and he’s a touring member of The Eagles, who’ve already booked over 40 shows next year.
Did growing up in Nashville impact your songwriting?
My family has many generations in Nashville, so I grew up surrounded by grandparents, great-grandparents, lots of cousins. I’m sure proximity to music directed my life. I didn’t have a goal of becoming an artist, I just loved music. I started writing songs in high school and I’d sing anywhere I could.
Your first LP came out when you were 16. What was it like being a child star?
I didn’t feel like one. I finished high school, went to college, worked on weekends and summers. I didn’t feel the impact of being a familiar face until well into my career.
Why did you pursue Christian music?
When I started to write, I couldn’t find songs about the faith journey. I didn’t grow up in a church that had a choir and wasn’t really familiar with gospel. But I came up in the era of James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell. I sang those songs, but [felt] nobody was singing about: Is there a purpose for life? How do you navigate deep questions? I was trying to fill in the gaps.
When and how did you get dubbed the Queen of Christian Pop?
I don’t know! It was the mid-’80s. I was signed to Word Records, a gospel company that reached out to A&M Records and said, “We have an artist that we believe can have a larger appeal.” I didn’t even pursue that.
What was it like transitioning to pop?
It was fun! Life is falling in love, being scared, failing, feeling courageous, bowing your head, having gratitude. When I started recording pop, I was glad to have a full spectrum of experiences to sing about.
In 2002, you returned to your roots with one of your most religious albums ever, Legacy…Hymns and Faith. Why?
I had been through a divorce, my first marriage crashed and burned, I had remarried, and I just was trying to find my footing in life. I turned to the things that felt foundational to me.
How did you and Vince meet?
We met through music. I think it was a Christmas show for the families of soldiers. I was married at the time — we were kind of in the same circles but didn’t really get to know each other until the early ’90s. We hit it off immediately, and then it was like five years of trying to navigate our own lives, but feeling drawn to each other.
Was it tougher getting divorced because of your religious fan base?
Like anybody going through it, you are just trying so hard to manage the world immediately around you. What anybody thinks on the periphery does not matter. I couldn’t have cared less. I had to have the freedom to find the life that I could live with integrity. [Others] can stay or fall out.
What lessons did you learn from divorce?
I got lost somewhere in my own life, and it mattered to me to find a way back to myself. It’s made me parent differently, to learn lessons of respect and reconciliation. If I hear someone talking about their own life with a lot of frustration, I’ll say, “What are you willing to change to live a life that’s respectful?” Respect is so important.
Are any of your kids getting into music?
Our youngest, Corrina, is studying music performance in college. She’s a great singer. We’re a blended family of five. I inherited Jenny when I married Vince. She’s 37, and we have two grandkids from her and [her husband] Josh. She tours with me and is a great harmony singer.
Any life lessons you can share?
We’re in such a polarized time. Say these phrases as often as possible and you’ll change the world around you: “How can I help you? I’m proud of you. I love you. Thank you.” And the one word, “we,” even if it’s someone you don’t [agree] with or are furious with. All of life is the work of reconciliation. That’s the journey of faith: the reconciliation between God and man. Everything else is just a lot of bluster.
What’s up next for you?
This year we married off two daughters, our youngest left for college and I’m sleeping like a teenager! I want to experience life and not have a work agenda. I’m going to take my Airstream Bambi trailer coast to coast, meet people and just celebrate being alive!
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