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Tag Archives: Amy Grant

  • Remembering Heart in Motion - Amy Grant

    Posted on January 14, 2014 by John van der Veen

    It doesn't take much to unlock the memories of our past. It might be a smell in the air that brings us back to summer camps. Or a taste that helps us remember a grandmother's cooking. Or, in this case, a song.

    Do you remember what you were doing in 1991? Songstress, Amy Grant released her eighth album, Heart in Motion then. It was the follow up to the more acoustic album, Lead Me On and more mainstream pop album, Unguarded.

    Heart in Motion was certainly a pop album, meaning that it was "popular." It was commercial in every sense. Lyrically though, it varied from light songs about relationships (Good For Me) to heavier songs dealing with dark pain (Ask Me). Also, many of our churches have sung, and some still do, Hope Set High.

    Heart in Motion made a huge impact on the Christian music landscape. By the time 1997 rolled around, it had sold more than 5 million copies. Singles; Baby Baby, Every Heartbeat, Good for Me, and I Will Remember You all held #1 or #2 slots on mainstream radio stations for months on end. The album itself was listed as #30 in the book (now out-of-print) CCM Presents: The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music. It also was nominated for a Grammy.

    Do you remember where you were when you heard Heart in Motion for the first time?

    Heart in Motion was a landmark release for me. “I will Remember You” and “Hope Set High” are two of my favorite Amy Grant songs of all-time. - Dan Hubka, Music Buyer; Family Christian

    It's fantastic. She's fantastic. Amy helped pave the way for girl singer - songwriter-guitarists like me. Ironically it came out the year I was born. - Jamie Grace

    "That album still holds a sweet spot in my heart and will forever have on my iPod. Also, that cover made me and many others get unfortunate perms, velvet dresses and a locket necklace." - Anita Renfroe

    Baby Baby

    That's What Love is For

    Good For Me


    This post was posted in Music, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Amy Grant

  • The Most Read Interviews of 2013

    Posted on January 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    In 2013, we had the privilege of sitting down and talking with some great individuals that have had such a huge impact of people all over the world. The ten interviews below are just a sampling of who we talked with.

    These are the folks who have been challenged greatly, and in their challenges, they continue to challenge others. To love more. To serve more. To hope more. To rest more. To seek more. To study more.

    The ten interviews below are the interviews that were read the most. Shared the most. For that, we are thankful. We look forward to many more interviews and discussions in 2014.

    Amy Grant - The Wife/Mother/Singer/Songwriter

    There’s nothing like life experience to provide a deeper, richer emotional palette for a songwriter to draw from when crafting new music. For Amy Grant, it’s been 10 years since her last full studio album and it’s been a decade marked by soul-shaking milestones. As she’s always done, Grant has embraced both the triumphs and challenges, distilled them to their essence and poured the lessons learned into songs that ache with honesty and reverberate with gentle wisdom.

    How Mercy Looks From Here is the soundtrack of a life well-lived. “A lot of major life changes happened during these past few years.” Grant says. “So on this record, there’s zero filler. Every song has a real story behind it.”

    In chatting with Amy, I saw, again, that here is a woman of deep faith. Deep love. Love for family. Love for art. Love for food. Yes, food. And love for God.

    Read the full interview here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    "There’s a saying that goes around that says 'If you crossover make sure you bring the cross over.' That’s definitely my heart and my aim. I want to remain distinct and authentically Christian in whatever realm I’m in. I don’t want people to walk away saying, 'Lecrae is a Christian because he said so. Lecrae is a Christian because they labeled him that.' But I want them to say, 'Lecrae is a Christian because I can tell by his life that he values Jesus.' That’s really what my aim is, for people to see I truly treasure and value Jesus and His Word. If [crossing over] happens then, by God’s grace, let their lives be changed."

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    "Just trust in Jesus. Trust Him. Trust that He's going to bring you through to the other side, and don't try to do it on your own strength. And I mean that sincerely. This is not just to tell an audience of Christians. When I was 18 years old, I was a wreck. I was a wreck. My parents had divorced, and I was completely lost in the world. And I fought. I fought The Message. I fought it all the way, all the way. I didn't want to have anything to do with Jesus, nothing. Yeah."

    Read the full interview here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    "When our last record came out, there was a guy who basically sent me an email saying he heard our song on NFL. “Hero” was playing and he liked it. He said he went to their website and found out who the band was, and bought the song. He said he loved the song and came to a show. One thing led to another, and basically this guy and his wife were both in the pornography industry. They both were filmmakers. The guy got saved and ended up leading his wife to it too. So they were saved now and got out of that industry and have gotten into church. And it was all from hearing our song on NFL. Stories like that are amazing! It’s something only God can do. And we are so honored He is using our music to do it."

    Read the full interview here.

    God's Unfolding Story In the Life of Laura Story

    t’s one thing to write compelling, heart-stirring, emotionally rich songs of worship, praise and honor to Christ. People have been doing it for centuries, forming the backbone of faith traditions the world over.

    It’s another thing entirely to bare your soul, share your vulnerabilities and risk criticism and career success by challenging the mold and daring to say that God is not necessarily a God of happy endings.

    Instead, He is the God of every story. This is what Laura Story is learning day by day.

    On her new album, God of Every Story, Laura becomes the most vulnerable. In Great God Who Saves and Blessings we certainly heard the heart of who Laura is, but it was within the established relationship of artist and listener. With her new title, she attempts to bring those walls down, bridging the separation.  God of Every Story is an album where we don't just see Laura's heart in some sort of abstract way - from a distance, but she asks us to join her in seeing what God is writing in Laura's life.

    Read the full interview here.

    The Jason Crabb Interview

    GRAMMY and DOVE Award-winning Jason Crabb has become one of the most respected names and voices in Christian music. Working alongside accomplished producers Jay DeMarcus (band member of Rascal Flatts), Ed Cash and Wayne Haun, Jason has delivered his sophomore studio solo recording, Love Is Stronger. A moving collection of down-home gospel and contemporary songs that feature Jason’s incomparable voice and heartfelt performance style, the release offers inspiring and challenging messages of comfort through the love of Christ that conquers all. Loved by audiences of every age and background, Jason Crabb is fast-becoming a prominent voice of hope for his generation and for generations to come.

    "I absolutely love the Southern style living. I'm kind of a—oh, I don't know what you would call it--a hybrid, I guess. I love all of it. Fried chicken, the fried pork chops, I'm in the woods a lot, and I love the outdoors. I even like to hunt a little. That’s just the way we grew up. I grew up in the swamplands of Kentucky, with coal miners and different ones and that's pretty much who I am. But then again, you know, I love nice cars (that I don't have!) and the finer things in life as well. But if it ever came down to it, give me the rocking chair, the front porch and a cup of coffee and I'm in a good place."

    Read the full interview here.

    Which interview stands out to you as a favorite?


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Interviews, John van der Veen, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Laura Story, Nick Vujicic, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Jason Crabb, Skillet, Amy Grant, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr.

  • 44th Annual Dove Awards

    Posted on October 17, 2013 by Family Christian

    Hosted in the hub of the Christian Music industry, Nashville Tennessee, the 44th Annual GMA Dove Awards included several powerful performances by Big Daddy Weave, Colton Dixon, Michael W. Smith, and For King & Country, to name a few. The official hosts of the event were Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin as well as pre-cast telecast hosts Jamie Grace and Chris August.

    The Dove Awards took place on October 15th and will be aired on October 21st at 8 p.m. EDT on UP.

    Click here for a list of the winning albums.

    Throughout the night, Matt Redman frequented the stage, winning 4 awards for his single “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” as well as the Songwriter of the Year Award. Matt was also a part of the Dove-Award winning album, “Passion: Let The Future Begin” along with Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, Kari Jobe, David Crowder, and Christy Nockels.

    Artist of the Year was awarded to Tobymac who took home a total of 4 awards, including 3 for his short film and album, “Eye On It”. Upon winning the Artist of the Year Award, TobyMac stated, “It feels weird to be called artist of the year when I know it takes a family, and I always want to acknowledge that. I said in one of my songs a long time ago, ‘I’m just a little man trying to fit in God’s plan.’ I still feel like that”.

    Other winners included For King & Country as New Artist of the Year, Lecrae’s “Tell the World” for Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year, and Jason Crabb’s “What the Blood is for” (Southern Gospel Song of the Year). The Uplift Someone Award was given to Mandisa “for her music, message, and humanitarian heart, all of which (individually and collectively) have inspired others,” said Amy Grant.

    Among a number of spectacular performances, the musical tribute to the Gaither Vocal Band, performed by Karen Peck, Daily & Vincent, Signature Sound and the Isaacs, was one of the most remarkable displays of passion and talent. Another memorable moment included a collaborative performance with Michael W. Smith and the Newsboys in honor of evangelist Billy Graham.

    UP’s President & CEO Charles Humbard stated, “Congratulations to the GMA Dove Awards winners, performers, presenters and hosts Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin for a thrilling night a spectacular entertainment. This evening celebrates the unifying and uplifting power of this genre and demonstrates why this is the biggest night of Christian and Gospel music. There is no other network dedicated to showcase this prestigious musical celebration other than UP.”

    For a list of winners click here.

     


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Lecrae, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Kari Jobe, Newsboys, for King & Country, Chris August, Michael W. Smith, Matt Redman, Kirk Franklin, Mandisa, Passion Conferences, Jason Crabb, Gaither Vocal Band, Kristian Stanfill, Amy Grant, Colton Dixon, Jamie Grace, Billy Graham, Dove Awards, The Isaacs, Big Daddy Weave, Christy Nockels, Karen Peck, Signature Sound

  • The Life, Legacy and Music of Bill Gaither

    Posted on August 21, 2013 by John van der Veen


    The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.

    An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

    That's where it all started.

    I had the privilege to sit down and chat with Mr. Gaither. It was more-or-less a walk down memory lane more than anything.

    Mr. Gaither:   It was the music that really caught my attention first. It would be in the late '40s, and I would listen to the radio and I heard a gospel quartet. I just loved four-part harmony, the below base singers and the tenors and how that all worked and it got my attention. Later on I found out what they were singing about, but the first time I heard it, it was just their singing that I liked.

    John:               Do you remember that first artist that you heard?

    Mr. Gaither:   They're the group called the Big Four Quartet. Nobody knows much about them.

    John:               I'm sure there are a few that still do. What was the first concert that you went to?

    Mr. Gaither:   I went to their concert. They were appearing at our little town. They were from Indianapolis and were on a 50,000 watt pure channel station, so they traveled throughout the Midwest. They came to our little town of Alexandria and I went see them.

    John:               At that time, Mr. Gaither, it seems like traveling gospel groups certainly had the ability to tour maybe a little easier than what they do now. Was that a simpler time?

    Mr. Gaither:   They were in smaller venues and didn't require a lot of amplification. It required some, but it didn't require the kind amplification you have to have in arenas these days. It was good. It was just a car so they weren't carrying around a lot of equipment. I think they always carried some product too, to sell.

    John:               Growing up there in Central Indiana, you had your eyes set on being a school teacher, right? Or did you always think that maybe at some point you would be involved in the music industry?

    Mr. Gaither:   When I was a kid I thought I could do something in music, but after I got out of high school I've realized that that's a tough road to go. I went to college, and majored in education and worked as a teacher for the first 10 years of our professional life.

    John:               Were you always a song writer? Were you writing songs all the way through that time? Did you write songs in childhood, et cetera?

    Mr. Gaither:   No. I didn't start writing songs until I headed out of college. I started writing songs because we were running out of material that our group could sing. We were just running out of material that we could do.

    John:               How could that be? Running out of material, that is rather ironic. How many songs you have written through these years?

    Mr. Gaither:   We've probably written about 700 or 800 songs. I’m not sure, but the copyright department keeps track of all of that.

    John:               That's incredible. You're still writing today?

    Mr. Gaither:   Yes. Not as much as we did in the early days, but I think we're writing good quality stuff at least.

    John:               Absolutely. At what point then when you became a schoolteacher—you said you were doing that for the first 10 years of your gospel career—at what point did you make that transition…?

    Mr. Gaither:   When my night job overtook my day job. I wasn't being honest and fair, I don't think, to the school system that was paying me. I was writing a bit and we were travelling quite a bit, and I can remember the day I went to the principal, and he said, "I knew this day was going to come. I hate to see it come." I tell him, I said, "I can't keep pushing this on both ends." He said, "Man, we hate to lose you as a teacher, but you've always got a job in case you want to come back."

    John:               That's great. Mr. Gaither, going back to the songs that you and your wife have written through the years, when you go through your catalog, what do you think is the most important song that you guys have ever written?

    Mr. Gaither:   That's hard to say from our perspective because we've got some pretty important songs that never really got into top. When I'm asked that question, I usually go back to the songs that the people ask for and the songs that seem to rise to the top. Among these is “Because He Lives.” We've got that from all over the country and all over the world. We just went to Norway last year in an arena with 8,000 people singing “Because He Lives” in Norwegian too. We just went down to Brazil, Sao Paulo, and 8,000 people down there were singing “Because He Lives” in their language, in Portuguese. We go over to Hungary and the same thing happened there with “He Touched Me.” That song is always at the top of the list of songs that people know that we've done. There's something about that name.

    John:               When you looked at all of the hymns or gospel songs that have been written from centuries ago, has there been one that you or Gloria continue to go back to that has definitely impacted your heart?

    Mr. Gaither:   There'd be several there, and they would have to be the category of hymns. “How Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is always a very meaningful lyric and the lyrics of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” would be one I back again too. Some of the gospel lyrics too, like “The Love of God could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made. Songs like Hamlin's “Until Then My Heart Will Go On Singing.”

    John:               Mr. Gaither, when you look back at your ministry through the years what sticks out in your mind as maybe one of your greatest achievements?

    Mr. Gaither:   I don't know. In fact, I hope I brought some people together. I think ... I hope we've done something to unite the body of Christ. There are so many things that they divide it with today, but I hope that we have united some folks. I told somebody the other day that ... what are you doing? I think I'm a bridge.

    John:               That's a fantastic statement. What do you think, kind of running down the rabbit trail here a second Mr. Gaither, what do you think of the church here in the United States here in the West recently? Are we in trouble? Are we on the right track? Are we continually focusing on the centrality of the gospel?

    Mr. Gaither:   I'm quite encouraged with the church at this day in effect. I think as a whole the church is doing a lot of doing of significant things in the community.  I think with the dawn of this century, we've become more of a light. I learned a little chorus in Sunday School, I think it's a very important chorus. It goes, “This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.” I hear people talk about we got to fight the darkness. I'm not sure we fight anything. I think what we do ... the only way to fight the darkness is let your little ... let your light shine and I think if you get enough lights shining, the darkness dissipates. I think I see that more and more all the time. I think the church is finally coming of age and realizing it's more than just talking, it's more than rambling all the time about what we're about. It's about being and being the Body of Christ and being the extension of Christ in the culture and I think we're making a difference.

    John:               Just thinking back over what immediately flooded into my mind when you said that, was one of the times that I was at a Homecoming show. I don't know if you guys still do it, but remember those little flashlights that you had and at some particular point all the lights go dim and everybody starts shining these lights and it's incredible. The whole arena is then lit up with these tiny little lights and it's fantastic. I think what you just said, that picture in your live show is a clear, very visible example of what the church can and should be.

    Mr. Gaither:   I think we have to talk less and walk better.

    John:               That's a good statement. Wow. Mr. Gaither on that note, would you be willing to share what God has been teaching you lately?

    Mr. Gaither:   If I'm on anything here lately it's been on theme with being ... by being viral. By that I mean being what we say we are and doing on a day to day basis by the way we treat the waitress at the waffle house. There's so many different ways to let that light shine and I guess the biggest thing that God is teaching me is just finding more ways that I can be and that I can live out the Scripture.

    John:               Amen. Mr. Gaither, what's on the horizon? What do we have to look forward to for the second half of 2013 from the Homecoming team?

    Mr. Gaither:   I'm 77 years old. I don't even buy green bananas anymore. I'm not sure. I really take ... I don't live much in the future and I don't live at all in the past. I really live in the moment. I live in the day and I take the doors that are opening for me today and try to make as much out of them as I can. I might say today first is I'm just spending most of this day preparing for a trip that we are doing in Indianapolis on November the 30th this fall with Wheeler Mission. It's going to be a major benefit where hopefully we're going to raise close to half a million dollars for the homeless in Indianapolis where our mission has been being the evangelist and outreach for 67 years. It's already there, I don't have to organize them. All I have to do is help them do what they do better. I find myself at this point being preoccupied with that.

    John:               What's the name of that organization?

    Mr. Gaither:   Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. Been there for 70 years feeding the homeless, taking in the homeless.

    John:               There is a ... let's see. I'm not sure if I have the title correct but there is a Women of Homecoming album coming out this fall, is that correct?

    Mr. Gaither:   Yes, this fall. We just taped it earlier and it's ... all of the videos up to now had been a mixture of both males and females but this is just the women singing and the women's issues are pretty much the same as the male issues but they're wonderful themes about responsibility and themes about commitment, themes about forgiveness, reconciliation, love, trust, hope in a different call of times. The songs are wonderful. Praise and worship. It's going to be a wonderful video.

    John:               Name some of the ladies that will be on the album.

    Mr. Gaither:   Sandy Patty, Kim Hopper, Teranda Green, Amy Grant, Natalie Grant and some of the newer names, like Jamie Grace.

    John:               Quite a selection.

    Mr. Gaither:   Yes.

    John:               Fantastic. I love it. I'm excited already. When you look at the Homecoming albums or videos through the years, how many of them do you think are surrounded around a theme?

    Mr. Gaither:   Many of them are, many of them are not. The theme in the early days was honoring some pioneers who had gone before, which I think was a good thing to do, and then they took on a theme or a life of their own. We had two that we had at Thanksgiving on being thankful and a couple ... we did about three or four with a theme of honoring the Graham organization and the music that's come out of it, with Billy Graham even involved himself with interviews and talks. Then where we have traveled internationally, we did one in Australia, one in England, and one in Africa. It takes on various themes depending where we are. When in New York City at Carnegie Hall that was more of a peace rally thing.

    John:               One last question here for you Mr. Gaither. When you and your wife sit down to relax, who do you listen to?

    Mr. Gaither:   My reading or my listening is all across the board. I still love classical music and would listen to a lot of classical in my car, at the house. I like early country. I'm not real crazy about the current country but I like some of the early country singers. I like a good gospel song.

    John:               Anyone in particular come to mind or just a nice variety?

    Mr. Gaither:   It's pretty much across the board. Now I enjoy listening to the Vocal Band.

    John:               As you well should. There's nothing wrong with that.

    Mr. Gaither:   Of some of those [GVB] projects, I’ve said, "We were better than we thought we were, weren't we?"

    John:               I'm sorry. I said that was my last question. I would follow that up with how about books? Do you and Mrs. Gaither read a lot?

    Mr. Gaither:   We read a lot. We read a lot of ... I read a lot of biography myself. It's interesting to learn from the lives of other people. Things they did right, sometimes things they did wrong but that's always an interesting way. I love history books, I'm quite a historian, and I love good spiritual help books.

    John:               Mr. Gaither, I want to thank you so much for your time today. I know you have an extremely busy schedule and I am so honored to talk with you today. You have been even from a distance such a great example of a godly man and a godly grandfather to me and to my family through all these years, so I'm very grateful for that. I'm thankful that you were able to take my call today.

    Mr. Gaither:   You're very, very kind and we'll look forward to the Women of Homecoming video ... it's very special and it will minister to a lot of people.

    John:               I'm sure it will.

    Mr. Gaither:   Glad to speak with you, my friend. You have a good day.

    When it's all said and done, I am not sure if there is a stopping point for this man.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, Amy Grant, Jamie Grace, Natalie Grant, Gloria Gaither, Gaither Homecoming, Bill Gaither Trio, Sandy Patty, Kim Hopper, Teranda Green

  • 1GirlNation - Taking Over the World

    Posted on August 15, 2013 by John van der Veen



    Talent, passion and youthful exuberance are always a potent recipe for great music, but when you add message-driven lyrics, a finely tuned sense of purpose and five fun-loving girls, therein lays the foundation for an explosive new entry on the cultural landscape. 1 Girl Nation delivers an ear-grabbing, effervescent sound that uplifts audiences by merging engaging melodies with substantive yet catchy lyrics, packing a one-two punch with considerable impact.

    1 Girl Nation is made up of five talented young women, each possessing a strong, distinctive voice and tons of personality. The group includes Kayli, who grew up on military bases all over the world due to her father's career in the Air Force, settling in Orlando, Florida; Lauryn Taylor, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama who heard about the opportunity from a friend who works inside the music industry; Kelsey, a Chicago, Illinois native with a degree in music education; Carmen, a singer/dancer who grew up in the Nashville area and attended famed Belmont University and the youngest member of the group, Lindsey, a pastorís kid who hails from Jacksonville, Florida.

    John: You ladies are new to the scene. Five of you - put together. Was this kind of a competition thing that you guys were part of, or did you all grow up going to kindergarten together?

    Lauryn: No, we actually didn't know each other. This was an audition process. They kind of found us, I guess.

    Carmen: We were all working on solo careers before. About a year ago there was an audition call for a girl group through Patton House Entertainment, and we all sent in audition videos, and the top 15 girls came to Nashville and did an audition week where there were solo auditions, dance auditions and group auditions. There was a recording day and they narrowed it down to eight and then five, and here we are!

    John: Did you know that it was going to be five?

    Carmen: We had no idea who or what. It kept it interesting for sure. They made us work hard.

    John: You were scared during that experience?

    Carmen: Yes, it was very nerve racking. We got there and none of us are really used to being close with a lot of girls. You came to the process of you're staying with all these girls in this apartment and everyone's beautiful and talented and loves the Lord. It was very intimidating, but everyone was rooting for each other, I’d say. It was a really good experience.

    Kelsey: It was a positive environment, for sure.

    Kayli: I was surprised because I was expecting, you know, it was a competition, so girls are going to seclude themselves or be mean, but everyone was so nice. It was such a great experience.

    John: That's cool. We probably should have done this at the beginning, but let's go around and we'll say names and where we're from and who our biggest influences are.

    Lindsey: Oh, start with me. My name is Lindsey. I'm 20 years old. I'm the youngest. I'm from Jacksonville, Florida. A big influence in my life has always been Amy Grant and Jump 5.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Lauryn: I'm Lauryn Taylor, and I'm from Birmingham, Alabama. I'm 21. My biggest influence just in life is my mom because we are like the same head on two bodies. I've learned so much from her, and she's my best friend.

    Carmen: I'm Carmen. I'm from Nashville, Tennessee. Musical influences growing up… I listened to a lot of Point of Grace. That was kind of what I was raised on. Vocally, Kelly Clarkson is my girl.

    John: A little soul.

    Carmen: Yes, I kind of learned a lot from her.

    Kayli: I'm Kayli, and I'm from Orlando. My influence in my life would be my sister. Musical influence would be Mariah and Whitney and all the powerhouse vocals.

    Kelsey: My name is Kelsey. I'm from Chicago, Illinois. I'm 23. Probably my biggest life coach would also be my mom and my grandma. Wonderful influences in my life. Probably musically I would have to say Rachel Lampa. I've always been such a super fan of her, growing up listening to her and trying to sing her stuff. I can't do it, but I still try.

    John: Have you guys ever met any of the artists? Have you met Jump Five or Amy?

    Lindsey: I met Amy and about passed out. I wasn't expecting it. I was going in for a write and she was, there was the guy I was writing with in the building and she was writing with someone else in the building, and she was leaving as I was coming in. I wanted to say so much that nothing got out. It just ended up being uh, uh, you're, you're, and I just started getting giggly and weird. She was just like, "I'm Amy Grant." Then she just hugged me. It was just awful. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I was so star struck that I couldn't say it.

    John: That's awesome. How about you guys? Have you ever met Kelly Clarkson?

    Carmen: I would pass out if I met Kelly Clarkson. I would be like Lindsey.

    Lauryn: This girl is her number one fan right here.

    Carmen: Seriously, I'm the number one fan. We got to actually meet Point of Grace though through the audition process. They came in one day and did a morning session devotional with us, which was really cool. I teared up. I was crying.

    Lauryn: They gave us a lot of advice on how to just live together, be together and how to make it work.

    Kelsey: We grew up listening to them. We were really honored to meet them.

    John: That's cool. Have you ever met Rachel?

    Kelsey: No, but one of her really good friends did our makeup for a couple different shoots. She's always posting pictures of she and Rachel, and I'm always like if I could just squeeze in there for one picture. I'm hoping to meet her though.

    John: What would you say to someone who is 13 or 15 that kind of has that star struck look that either looks at somebody that has either been in our industry for a long time like Amy or the POG girls or looks at you guys and says, "That's what I want to do?"

    Kelsey: I would say you can never dream too big. I think for me, being an artist and being a singer and being on the road was always something that was so not attainable. It was such a far-fetched goal for me. Always something I wanted, but never something within reach I always felt like. God is a God that makes dreams come true. If they're aligned with His will, then I think that there is never a dream that's too far to reach. That would be my encouragement to that 13-year-old aspiring artist: that you never know what God can do if you're just willing. If you're willing and ready to take a step of faith.

    Lauryn: Mine would be to always seek God's will first, because no matter what, He knows what's best. Like Kelsey, I was always shy growing up. I never thought that I would actually be able to get up on stage, but God just continued to open doors and I would walk through in faith. It led me here.

    John: With the record coming out later this summer, what other big things are you guys looking forward to for 2013?

    Lindsey: We're looking forward to a tour called Secret Keeper Girls, which will be all over the country. We're really, really excited to be a part of that and partner with them.

    John: That's with?

    Lindsey: Bob and Dannah Gresh, yes. We're doing that and ...

    Carmen: That's actually a big part. We'll be on the road nonstop with them.

    Kelsey: We're also looking forward to our single being out. It just released and we're super excited.

    Lindsey: I'm really excited just about—back to the tour—I'm really excited about the hands-on ministry we get to do in the tour. We get to really work face-to-face with a lot of little girls. We're privileged to be able to do the altar calls and one-on-one time with girls, and then to do a little bit of worship and, of course, some of our songs. We're really excited to be all hands in and really just do this whole ministry thing. That's a big part of all our hearts. We grew up leading worship in different churches. I think it's going to be really cool to get to do everything that we feel like God has given us a heart for in this tour.

    Kayli: We're excited to share our stories. We all have very different stories and love to hear everyone's stories. That's where it opens up for us.

    Lauryn: Through that, we're all so different that I feel like the girls in the audience can at least relate to one of us and one of our stories.

    John: I'm sure that will take place.

    Carmen: This is a unique tour, I think, touching on what Lindsey said. We do get to be all hands on deck. We get to be part of the set up, the tear down, and learning how to serve is going to be a cool thing for us. We've all grown up in the church serving and doing ministry, but I think that what we do as 1 Girl Nation, such a small part of it is performing and the rest of it is sharing our hearts and being able to connect with girls on a deeper level than that, so that what they see on the stage is the same as what they see off the stage. The conversations that we have and the difference we get to make in their lives through conversation through just relating our stories to theirs is going to be the biggest thing that we take away from that. That's super exciting for me, and I know for all of us.

    Lauryn: I think they're going to teach us a lot more than what we think. I'm really excited to figure out what we learn from them.

    Kayli: We think we're ready.

    John: How would you guys describe your music?

    Carmen: I would say Toby Mac meets One Direction. It's that group feel, but girls. It's very current sounding, but with a great message.

    Kayli: Top 40 sound with a very bold Christian message.

    Lauryn: I really feel like it's kind of funny… the sound is kind of like that, but we're kind of our own thing. I don't think we could really even be compared to anything secular. We've kind of just gone with what each one of our hearts is. Our voices are all completely different. They're completely distinct, and it's really cool to see how God can take five different voices and make it work into one project. We're really hoping that will be a big part of our message too, that, look what five completely different people can do together.

    John: That does stand as a testimony. Who produced the record?

    Lauryn: We had actually a group of teams. We had Jason Ingram, Casey Brown and John Smith. That was one group. Another one was John White from Capital Kings. Then we had Josh Silverberg and Kip Williams.

    John: Awesome.

    Lauryn: Great minds.

    John: Each of them have their own kind of unique talents as well in various styles of music.

    Lindsey: It's a good amount of different kind of flavors and spices all throughout the album.

    John: Yeah, I would assume. Did those guys stretch you, or did you walk in and it was very comfortable?

    Carmen: We started out with a worship song. I think the best way to unite a room of people or a group of people is to just worship together. I really think that's something that's always helped connect hearts. We were just singing and worshipping, and I think that was a really good start for us. We'd always start in prayer so there was kind of a peace. Whenever we're in the studio and we're singing and they're like, “No, go again. You can do better.” I felt like it was a sport.

    Kelsey: We learned so much from them. We recorded the album in nine days start-to-finish. The days in the studio were long and exhausting, but I think what we learned and experienced in that short time was a lifetime's worth.

    Lauryn: I wanted it to last longer.

    Kayli: We made it fun. We brought strobe lights and candy. Every time a song was finished, we'd turn on the strobe lights and eat candy and just dance to it.

    Carmen: We wanted to make it a party every time.

    John: That's cool. One last question here. Well, maybe a few more. We'll see. What has God been teaching you guys either collectively or individually as of late?

    Lauryn: I can talk about this. I think for me God's been teaching me that it doesn't matter what your past looks like. It doesn't matter the things that you've been through. It doesn't matter the mistakes that you've made. God sees who He has created you to be. The things of the past, the mistakes that you've made, the sometimes dark paths that you've walked down do not define who you are. Your identity is found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. For me that's been such a, it's a hard pill to swallow sometimes when you think about how did I get here? Why did God choose me for this incredible ministry. I'm not worthy. I'm not adequate. I'm not equipped for this ministry.

    The beauty of that is that God uses broken people and God uses imperfect people and that's kind of overwhelming to me. I think that what I've been learning the most and taking away the most lately is that I am valuable. I'm loved. I'm treasured by Christ. That's pretty overwhelming day-to-day for me. That's something that I have to tell myself every day, remind myself every single day that“God loves you. Here's who you are in him. Here's who he has created you to be.” I think that probably everybody at some point of time in their life needs to get back to that place. It's not about me. It's not about what I've done. It's not about who I was in the past. It's about who I am now and the direction that I'm heading now and the person that God is creating me to be now.

    John: What an important message. Timely for so many people today, especially young girls. Anybody else?

    Carmen: I've just been humbled. I tell the girls a lot that I thought I had this great plan for my life and great goals for myself, and then God walks in and completely goes, "I have something even better." I'm like, what? Not selling myself short in just being humbled completely. Every day I thought I was so great, and it turns out I'm not at all. That's what I'm learning.

    Lindsey: I think God has been teaching me, I grew up as a pastor's kid and was really hands-on in the church, and I think in my life there's been a lot of good that has come out of that because it's been such good accountability. God has taught me what it's like to work and to do things for him and stuff like that. I have such a heart for worship. That's just a big part of what my family has taught me.

    Another side of that is that when you're under the spotlight and you're always a leader--at 12 I was leading worship and running the kids' ministry--there's so many things I had to do because whenever your dad is planting a church or starting one, your family is, we are the staff, you know? I found myself kind of losing who I am and losing that I can't struggle anymore and I can't look like I have something wrong. When I hit the doors into the church I've got to look like I've got it all together because people are depending on me, and you know that pressure. Through that I feel like I was the most miserable person and I felt like I was lost.

    I found myself writing songs. Looking back now, I found myself writing songs to people that are struggles I was going through to other people. It was things that I was dealing with and things that I couldn't come face to face with anymore. Through this whole girl group thing and stepping out of that and meeting these girls for the first time, I felt like I have accountability of my own. God has really taught me just to be real with Him, and that whenever I'm real with who I really am and what I'm really struggling with, that's when I can be free. That's when He can show me new things and show me who He is and what His love really looks like to the fullest. That's been a really cool thing for me. It's been recent and it's not easy.

    Sometimes it's easy, especially in this industry, to walk in and put that face on and go back to who I was and what I need to look like. Every time I do that, I don't see God work near as much as whenever I'm vulnerable and whenever I'm open with what I'm struggling with too. It's been a really good lesson and it's really changed who I am.

    Lauryn: We've just been challenged lately on so many levels.

    Carmen: I keep calling it a crash course. God is putting us through the fire so he keeps refining us, refining us, refining us.

    John: Alright, I said that was the last question, but I have one more. Black coffee or fru-fru coffee?

    Kayli: If it doesn't taste like cake, I don't like it.

    Lauryn: I'm not that bad. I'm a happy medium.

    Kayli: If I want it to work, I'll drink black. When I go to Starbucks, I ask for extra caramel on the caramel macchiato. I'm like just pound it in there. That can be half the cup. I don't care.

    1 Girl Nation wants to encourage and inspire its audience, but ultimately they want to lead them to the source of all power. "The whole point of everything that we do is to bring more people into the Kingdom of Christ," says Kayli. "We were given these talents, abilities, tools, opportunities and platforms to get people to know the name of Jesus and that's the only reason why we do what we do. It's a fun life and we get to play out our dreams because of the talent God has given us, but it all goes back to Him."

    To find out more about 1 Girl Nation, click here. To hear their single, click here.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Capital Kings, Amy Grant, Dannah Gresh, Rachel Lampa, 1 Girl Nation, Jump 5, Point of Grace

  • Dara Maclean - New Album - Wanted

    Posted on July 10, 2013 by Family Christian

    Dara Maclean is scheduled to release her sophomore album, Wanted, on September 24. The album’s title track and lead single grabbed early attention jumping seven spots at radio to No. 30 on NCA chart this past week. Produced by Paul Mabury (All Sons & Daughters, Hillsong, Meredith Andrews), Wanted is the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Maclean’s debut album, You Got My Attention.

    For Maclean, both a passionate artist and advocate for the International Justice Mission, an organization that is pioneering the fight against human trafficking, this album is much more than just a compilation of songs. “This album is for those broken, the lost and the ones in need of rescue. It’s for me and it’s for them, whether ‘they’ are next door or half way across the world. This record is a reminder that through God’s grace and redemption, He has made us good enough, He sees us as ‘blameless.’ We’ve been forgiven and we can find the peace, satisfaction and rest we’re looking for in Him,” said Maclean. “This record is my mouthpiece to raise the volume of the already screaming heartbeat of the Father, crying ‘Set My People Free.’ When life hits in the hardest ways, and you need peace and you need an answer, let’s take Him at His word and together learn about truth, discover sustaining hope and put all of our trust in the only answer, God.”

    “She genuinely cares for people and has a story to tell; she genuinely wants to see people changed,” said Mabury. “I heard a girl singing at the beginning…now I hear a woman singing.”

    Sonically, Wanted reveals Maclean’s musical upbringing and love for powerful, soul-steeped vocalists from Etta James to Lauryn Hill.  This influence can be seen throughout the album that infuses her soaring vocals with modern pop and soul melodies thanks to the help of multi-talented producer Mabury. “Paul knows the world of worship and he’s a songwriter, a producer and one of the best drummers that I’ve heard,” said Maclean. “He is also extremely well-versed in the music that moves me. He has this backbone of soul and took the time to ‘get me’ and wanted to make music that was true to that.”

    During the past two years Maclean, who embraces song writing equally as much as being a vocalist, wrote heavily in preparation for this album. She co-wrote each of the 12 tracks on Wanted and loved getting to write with some of her favorites including Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram (Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman), Dave Barnes (Blake Shelton, Bebo Norman) and Cindy Morgan (Amy Grant, Mark Schultz).


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Mark Schultz, Hillsong, Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman, Dara Maclean, Dave Barnes, Amy Grant, All Sons & Daughters, Meredith Andrews, International Justic Mission, Blake Shelton, Cindy Morgan

  • FOR KING & COUNTRY PERFORM BEFORE A SOLD-OUT CROWD

    Posted on May 15, 2013 by Family Christian


    Saturday night was a momentous occasion as critically-acclaimed duo for KING & COUNTRY played before a sold-out crowd for KSBJ’s 30th Anniversary Concert. The celebration, which also featured performances by Chris August, Francesca Battistelli, Steven Curtis Chapman, Family Force 5, Amy Grant, MercyMe and Switchfoot, took place at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Spring, TX.

    “for King and Country were C-R-A-Z-Y onstage and set the bar high opening up the show,” said KSBJ’s Assistant Programming Director and “The Morning Show” co-host, Pam Kelly. “They really gave it their all and the crowd loved it.  And such nice guys!  Joel stood out in the plaza for hours, in the Houston heat, to take pictures with everyone who wanted one.  These guys are going to be around for a long time!”

    “Middle of Your Heart” is for KING & COUNTRY’s third single from their debut album, Crave. On January 10, they made their late night debut performing “The Proof of Your Love,” on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” In 2012, for KING & COUNTRY were named as one of Billboard’s 17 acts to watch and were CCM’s best-selling new artist. New Release Tuesday noted that Crave was “One of the Best Debut Projects in Years!” ET’s “The Insider” said the duo, “make music that speaks directly to your heart” and have been “gaining popularity in the alt-rock genre.” American Songwriter commented that “for KING & COUNTRY may just be Australia’s answer to Coldplay.”


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Switchfoot, for King & Country, Chris August, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Family Force 5

  • Amy Grant's Latest - One of the Best Albums of the Year

    Posted on May 15, 2013 by Family Christian


    The foundation behind Amy Grant’s first full-length studio album in 10 years came from some advice given to her by her late mother – “sing something that matters.” The six-time GRAMMY® Award winner, who releases her 18th studio album today, May 14 is dedicating How Mercy Looks From Here to her mother and drawing from some of her favorite singers and songwriters in what critics are calling her most impactful release to date. The impressive array of talent includes Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Will Hoge, Carole King, Eric Paslay and James Taylor.

    To launch her first album in over a decade, Grant dives in to street week with appearances on CBS This Morning (5/17 and 5/18) and the nationally syndicated lifestyle program, The Better Show (5/17) as well as Morning Joe on MSNBC (5/14), NPR’s “Weekend Edition” (5/12), WOR Radio with Rita Cosby (5/14), ABC Radio, Keep the Faith radio and more. Grant also recently conducted an in depth interview for Lifetime TV’s “The Balancing Act,” (5/28) as well as their “Hollywood Watch” program (5/31). Additionally, Grant is also scheduled to appear on the highly acclaimed shows The View and The Chew early this summer.

    Other media highlights for How Mercy Looks From Here include a special two-part Artist to Artist interview with FUSE NEWS between Grant and Sheryl Crow, an exclusive online video interview for Entertainment Tonight online as well as their featured artist for New Music Tuesday today, exclusive song premieres with Billboard.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, and cover stories with CCM Magazine, Called Magazine, Guideposts, FIRST for Women Magazine, SOCIAL and WHOA magazines. Additional feature coverage includes Billboard, Country Weekly, People.com, SiriusXM, and more.

    The album’s lead track, "Don't Try So Hard," features legendary songwriter James Taylor and continues its rise up the AC monitored chart, jumping 4 spots to #25 this week, and up 6 spots on the National Audience chart to #27.

    Along with special mother’s day promotions with several stations across the country, additional radio promos for the record are happening with key market stations throughout the country. Grant is making personal appearances at record listening parties with WAWZ, WGTS, WCIE, and WHPZ, as well as participating in a special promotion with KSBJ, while KXOJ and K-LOVE are both promoting a flyaway to The Greek Theater in Los Angeles to meet Amy and see her live.

    Welcoming back the iconic singer-songwriter with open arms, here are just a few of the multitudes of praises on How Mercy Looks From Here:

    “[Amy’s] time away from music seems to have given [her] a renewed fervor for the job – a feeling that she doesn’t plan to extinguish any time soon.”
    - Entertainment Tonight

    "The older I get the more I appreciate the experiences of others and what they teach me. This album is about just that, experience or the journey that we are all on. It is very powerful yet simple and humbling. Great record for where you are or where you will go!"
    - Mike Bowles, AVP Ministry Initiatives, Family Christian

    “...her singing has an easy grace that's well served by these songs of love, loss, faith and resilience, which benefit from Marshall Altman's spare, glowing production.”
    - USA Today

    It is so good to once again hear from Amy Grant. Her artistry, love, and matter of fact communication style have produced an incredible new release.
    Amy is always so good at encouraging me to get my head right, and she has done it again.
    - Hank Butler, Sr. Merchandiser Manager, Family Christian

    “Grant’s most emotionally compelling release since 1988’s “Lead Me On"... proves that sincerity is not overrated and that open-hearted storytelling will outlast any musical fad.”

    - Atlanta Journal Constitution

    “The revered veteran is at another creative peak punctuated by authentic vocal delivery, understated but sophisticated production and a slew of all-star guests.”
    - CCM Magazine

    "I’ve been waiting years for new Amy Grant music…this record was worth the wait. From the first single 'Don’t Try So Hard' which delivers instant rest for this world that has gotten itself into a great big hurry, to my personal favorite 'Our Time is Now' (co-written by Jon Foreman). I love 'How Mercy Looks From Here.'"
    - Dan Hubka, Family Christian

    "...a start-to-finish true album experience... Every song on this album is heart and soul music, and Grant hits a home run in her quest to “sing something that matters.”
    - Nashville Parent

    “A collection of songs that mine the depths of both heart and soul as only Amy can. This is easily one of the best albums of the year.”
    - NewReleaseTuesday.com

    “Ultimately a profoundly encouraging record, How Mercy Looks From Here is a vibrant collection of thoughtful, reflective ruminations on life and the passage of time, from the lens of one who realizes the purpose for which she was created.”
    - Christian Musician


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Amy Grant

  • Amy Grant - The Wife/Mother/Singer/Songwriter

    Posted on April 10, 2013 by John van der Veen



    There’s nothing like life experience to provide a deeper, richer emotional palette for a songwriter to draw from when crafting new music. For Amy Grant, it’s been 10 years since her last full studio album and it’s been a decade marked by soul-shaking milestones. As she’s always done, Grant has embraced both the triumphs and challenges, distilled them to their essence and poured the lessons learned into songs that ache with honesty and reverberate with gentle wisdom.

    How Mercy Looks From Here is the soundtrack of a life well-lived. “A lot of major life changes happened during these past few years.” Grant says. “So on this record, there’s zero filler. Every song has a real story behind it.”

    In chatting with Amy, I saw, again, that here is a woman of deep faith. Deep love. Love for family. Love for art. Love for food. Yes, food. And love for God.

    John: Before we talk about the new record, do you want to talk a little bit about what you’ve been doing over the last 10 or so years since the last new record? Is that too big of a question?

    Amy: I’ve been… Ten years is a lot of life!

    John: That’s a lot of life.

    Amy: It’s not that I haven’t made music in 10 years. I’ve toured and just from a work standpoint, I never stopped working. Just had a little less energy for being in the studio. In the last 10 years, we’ve gone from four kids under the roof to one. It’s a big change. I have two daughters living in New York now, a son who’s getting his engineering and applied mathematics degree and then a lot of personal changes that you just never know when those things are going to happen.

    There was the death of some good friends and my mom. A fellow musician, Will Owsley, who I’ve made a lot of music with. A good friend of mine who’ve I’ve played music with, my gosh, for 15 years, passed away in 2009. Anyway, I think there are times that are just sort of more creative, and there are times to just hunker down and be in life.

    John: When you go through the process of creating art, is that something you more or less feel compelled from your own heart, where it just kind of flows from you? Or is it more structured than that? Do you sit down, and take the time to say, “Okay, now I have to work here.”

    Amy: As far as song ideas, those just appear because they’re triggered by something. I might hold onto a song idea for quite some time before I sit down to put it into a song. Probably what makes me focus on an actual project is a deadline. I don’t know how you are in your life, you’re clearly a writer, but I don't know much time you make to sit down and just write for art’s sake. Since this last year I knew I had a record due and sometimes the responsibility of a deadline makes you disciplined. I consider it a gift.

    John: Do you know how many songs you have written?

    Amy: I don’t write 100 songs a year or anything like that. I’ve written only a couple songs some years, but I’ve done this for a long time, so I don’t know. Maybe a couple hundred.

    John: Amy, you are a singer, you’re obviously a songwriter, you’re a musician, you’re an actress and you’re an author. How do you encourage some of the people that are reading this now, who feel like they have too much on their plate and they don’t have time being a wife or a mom or a daughter or a co-worker? How do you manage all of life?

    Amy: I have to go back and say that I would use the term actress very loosely. I can’t speak for a man, but for a woman it might feel like we’re juggling all things at all times. But I think in reality that different things take priority, kind of in a revolving pattern. If you’re a working mom, there are times that a deadline at work forces you to put that on the front burner and there’s no rest until it’s done. I think maybe it’s good to say occasionally what matters the most, either to write it down or to talk about it with a good trusted friend.

    If how you’re spending your time never matches up to what your priorities are, then I think we need to be honest and say, “This is my priority.” If something is a priority and it never matches up with the time that you’re spending on it, there needs to be a change in how we’re spending our time. I have done all those things, but someone told me that one time. Everybody’s life is so different that it’s hard to say what’s going to give someone more time.

    The list of things I’ve done doesn’t tell you how I spend my time on a daily basis. For instance, we don’t eat out very much. You might think I do. Maybe it’s because when I’m on the road, I’m never digging into my own refrigerator. But I think the kitchen is the hub of the home. And because I travel so much with work, when we’re home, I’m almost always cooking something. I’m not a great cook, but I’m decent, so I always make sure there are good things in the refrigerator.

    When I get really overwhelmed with work or I feel very scattered, I will go into the kitchen and start cooking. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. For someone who has a 9 to 5 job, that might not work so well. But you can do it on the weekends. I find that when I start cooking, I have time to think. People walk through the kitchen because they smell something good, and they go, “Hey, what’s that smell?” So there’s the social side of it too. And if you don’t have an idea at first of what you’re going to cook, just cut up some onions and put them in a little olive oil in the skillet and then it starts to smell good. My family may ask, “What is it?” I go, “I don’t know. I’m just buying time.” That’s just for me.

    Cooking’s a very centering process. Somebody is always hungry and I’m cooking in mass, and so I know one of my friends is not going to have had time to make dinner or somebody I know might be sick, but I will just go, “Oh, man. I am feeling so scattered and really sad. I feel like I’m untethered. I can’t figure out what’s wrong,” so I start cooking. We all have our trigger points. For me, if I can start cooking, it gives me time to think, and then people come into the kitchen. My daughter will come in, sit on the kitchen counter and we just start talking. Anyway, those are some of the reasons I like it.

    John: Who’s the better cook, you or Vince?

    Amy: He only really cooks one meal a year, Christmas breakfast for the whole family. He loves to eat and so it’s nice to cook when you’ve got someone in the house who loves to eat.

    John: Does he make the same Christmas meal every year?

    Amy: It just kind of anything breakfast-y that you can think of.

    John: He goes beyond just, “Here’s bowl of cereal.”

    Amy: Yes. It’s like sausage, bacon, sometimes waffles, eggs. He started doing that years ago. It’s so nice to just sit there with a cup of coffee and watch him work. I like that.

    John: That’s a nice gift. Amy, let’s talk a little bit about the new record, How Mercy Looks From Here. What went into that title as a theme?

    Amy: It’s the title of one of the songs. I had that phrase floating around in my head for quite some time. I was anxious to write a song. I think the great thing about living for a while is that the longer you live, the less quick you are to say, “This is a good thing, this is a bad thing.” I just say, “Well, this is what it is, and now we live with this.”

    John: In one of the lyrics in that song, I think you sang, “I would have given up drowning in my tears if it wasn’t for your voice all these years.” What’s behind that?

    Amy: That song originally came from a really difficult time. I think the idea for that song was born in the first week of May, 2010. A lot of really awful things happened that week, and some really beautiful things as well. But with each extreme, what I experienced alone and what I experienced with my family was that we encountered a kind of gentle grace and mercy.

    Some within, with each other. I’ll tell you what happened that week. It started off on a Friday, Will Owsley, a good friend of mine, a musician, killed himself. It was awful and I went to his home that night. His mom and dad had come up from Anniston, Alabama and we were all just in shock. Then it started raining on Saturday, the next day. The biggest flood that’s ever been in recorded history hit Nashville. I guess it crested on Monday. Like a lot of people, we were not physically hurt, but we lost a lot of things.

    A lot of guitars that were at a storage facility and a rehearsal hall called Sound Check; probably all of our road cases and guitars. Of course in the wake of Will’s death, that seemed like nothing, but it was actually very difficult to even get in the car to go to his funeral because the roads were still flooded. Then it was also beautiful being with his family. And it was beautiful watching the community of Nashville come together to help each other out with the flood.

    Then, as a family, we were anticipating the wedding of our oldest daughter, Jenny, which was that Saturday. We were forging ahead with this outdoor wedding in our yard and making those plans, putting up tents. The woman who was the wedding planner, and handles all the decorations, said her home was completely destroyed. She was living out of a hotel and we said, “What can we do?” She said, “You know what? I can’t get home until the water recedes.” Her car was, I mean, the whole thing was under water. She said, “I’m living in a hotel and I just want to lose myself in this celebration. At the beginning of a married couple’s life and I’ll just deal with the mud later.” Watching that, we were going, “Oh, my goodness!” It was the most beautiful, joyful coming together. All week there were preparations and it was just so great. My mom and dad were over every day. Then on Thursday, a cousin of mine was killed in Afghanistan. Friday morning I’m at their home mourning again. Extremes.

    We were just talking about what a blessing he was. And his four siblings had sat around and made this recording with a friend of ours for several hours, reminiscing about family history. Just the timing of it was so merciful. Everybody was thankful for Skype, and that it hadn’t been months or weeks since they’d seen Adam’s face. Just processing, but feeling this sense of love and the mercy in the middle of it.

    Then that night, we had Jenny’s rehearsal dinner in our front yard because the location had been rained out for her rehearsal dinner. Our house is at the top of a little hill on the street. She got married in the front yard, I mean the rehearsal dinner’s in the front yard and the next day the wedding was in the side yard and the reception was in the backyard. I got to tell you, that was such an emotional rollercoaster week, the whole thing. I came away from that week saying, “I feel like from every angle I have seen how mercy looks. “ It took a couple of years to write the song, but I kept going, “I’ve got to write that song ‘How Mercy Looks From Here.’”

    John: I don’t want to say that all of your other records are not spiritual, because they certainly are, all of them are, but there are songs on here that go really deep. The one you were just talking about, “How Mercy Looks From Here,” which is the title track, and the first single “Don’t Try so Hard,” are quite spiritual. Has there been a spiritual awakening or a deep rootedness you’ve felt? You obviously have been talking about the various things that have happened in your life in the last few years, has God done something amazing?

    Amy: Well, I think He always does. Whether you’re writing about it or not. I think that on this record, in particular, I wanted every song to matter. That came directly from a conversation I had with my mom. My mother passed away in April of 2011. It’s February, I was home from a road trip, kind of an extensive tour with Michael W. Smith, from Fall 2010 to the Spring of 2011. Anyway, I had gone by to see my mom and dad, they both suffered with dementia.

    My dad’s still living and he has full blown dementia, but my mom … If you’re going to have to vote for a kind of dementia to have, Lewy Bodies is a good kind to have because it doesn’t change your personality. It just changes your relationship with reality. Sometimes it comes and goes, sometimes it seemed almost like she was in time travel or something like that.

    One time my niece was visiting her and my mom was so excited. She confided in my niece that she thought she was pregnant, which would have been a nightmare since she was 78. But she was so excited about … My aunt Gracie said, “Doe, you’re 78. There’s no way you’re pregnant.” My mother’s like, “I am? That’s awful.”

    And there was the time I had gone to see her in February. It was nighttime and we had our visit and then I said, “Mom, I’ve got to go pack and get back on the bus.” And she said, “Oh, you’re getting a bus.” I’m like, “Yes, I’m going to do a show. I’m traveling with Michael W. and I’ve been singing so much this year.” She went, “Ah, you sing?” Okay here we go… I said, “I do.” I’m so used to that pattern of her being there and then not being there. I said, “I do, I sing.”

    “What kind of songs do you sing?” she asked. I told her and she asked, “Will you sing something for me?” So I did and she was so adorable. Then she said, “Can I go with you?” I pictured my mother crawling into one of those bunks and I said, “Maybe not this time. We’ll talk about it when I’m back in town.” I kissed her on the cheek and I was heading out the door and she said, “Hey, will you do me a favor?” I turned back and I said, “Sure, what?”

    She said, “When you get on that stage, sing something that matters.” I said, “I will do that.” That was not our last conversation, but it was in the last eight weeks of her life. I’m dedicating this record to her. Gloria Napier Grant. I believe that was probably a driving force in the song choices. They’re not all of the spiritual nature, but they all matter.

    John: Amy, on the song, “Deep As It Is Wide,” you have some quest vocals.

    Amy: Yes, but that’s the only song on the record that I was not a part writer on.

    John: Who are the other singers?

    Amy: Erik Paslay. He wrote that song six years ago and I have loved it. I’ve had a copy of it for four years. I’ve loved it.

    John: It’s a great song.

    Amy: I’ve listened to it incessantly in the last months of my mom’s life. He is the one that gave me the permission to sing it with him. He wanted to do a group thing. Erik and Sheryl Crow and myself. I’m just crazy about that song and they’re both dear friends of mine. Erik and I were both at the studio, because we were working simultaneously with the same producer, Marshall Altman. I said, “Erik, either say yes we can do the song or no we can’t.”

    He was really dragging his feet because so many people had asked him to record that song. Little Big Town wanted to record it, Lady Antebellum wanted to record it and he kept saying, “No.” I said, “Just say no, it’s okay.” He said, “No. I think I want you to be singing on this song,” and I said, “Okay, well great. What else? Do you want it to be like a group of singers?” He said, “I guess so.” As a songwriter, what you write, those are your gems. That’s clearly a great song. Erik will, hopefully, have a great career in country music.

    I have good audience in the Christian music community and so I said, “Why don’t we ask Cheryl, because she’s more of the rock-n-roll background. That way we’re really speaking to three different communities. He said, “I like that. I like that.” Because really it’s about the song, especially that song. We called her up and she said, “I’m getting ready to lie down for a nap. I’ll listen to it as soon as I get down, and I’ll call you back.” She called back and said, “How did I get lucky straw to get to sing on this song?”

    John: That’s great. Amy, do you have a passage in the Bible that you’re particularly close to right now?

    Amy: That’s a good question. I spend a lot of time memorizing Scripture. I would say the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is swirling around my head currently. Really the whole thing, I think, because it dove tails with this book that I’m reading right now called The Epic of Eden. Who’s the author of that? Let me see. Sandra Richter is the author. She’s a professor at some seminary.

    The songs on How Mercy Looks From Here represent a season of growth, yet as personal as they are, they are also universal. Everyone can relate to love, loss and the passing of time. “At some point in life you realize that some things really matter and some things don’t,” Grants says. “Living matters. Celebrating life matters.  Seeing the value in hard times matters.  Relationships and people matter.  Faith matters.  I feel like that’s where my head has been while writing and recording his project.  I feel this is a very positive record. I hope it is life affirming. Life prepares us for the journey. You don’t know what’s ahead and that is one of the great things about getting older in a framework of faith.  Faith is the one thing that stands the test of time.”

    Amy Three Caregiving Tips
    In this video, Amy talks about caring for her father who has profound dementia and what families can do to make this time one of meaning and spiritual growth.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Hebrews, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Death, Dementia, Christian Music

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