Posts Tagged ‘Gary Chapman’


If you know me well, you know that I love Amy Grant. Through the years, I have taken some flack about this, but as I always say “screw you” if you insult my tastes in music and film. To me, she is what every christian artist should aspire to: gaining mainstream attention without compromising yourself. Among some conservative christian circles, she’s also rather controversial because she not only went mainstream but also got a divorce from fellow christian artist, Gary Chapman, and married country artist Vince Gill.

 

Well, I am here to say that it has happened once again: Amy Grant came to town, this time as a surprise guest at the KSBJ 30th anniversary concert, and I missed it. The last time I saw her was n 2008 when she came on her Lead Me On 20th Anniversary tour. Since then, she seems to skip Houston unless its some fancy gala with tickets at $300 a head.

 

This is the 2nd time I have given up meeting her. The first time has a good story behind it: I was slated to cover her show for UH newspaper, The Daily Cougar and I had balcony seats for me and 2 friends – one of which was going to her first show ever in the US. (she is from Hong Kong) Anyways, so I had to give up my tickets because they [her management] gave us approval with only a weeks notice and I had already gotten tickets. So I gave my floor seats to my dad and we enjoy the show tremendously.

 

It wasn’t until 3 days after that we discovered a slip of paper inside the ticket envelope saying “come meet the band after the show.” In essence, I gave up my dream of meeting one of the greatest christian artists of all time. In the words of Absolutely Fabulous‘s Patsy Stone I thought “I’m not happy!”

 

Then there was this time. They had tickets available where you could meet the artists, but did I buy them? No. Did I even go to said concert? No. Did she any of my record copies of her self-titled debut album (recorded at the mere age of 17), Father’s Eyes, Age to Age or Unguarded? No.

Lead Me On (Amy Grant album)

Lead Me On (Amy Grant album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Oh well.

 


One of the best things about Contemporary Christian Music singer Amy Grant is that she isn’t afraid to tell the truth. Though the truth can hurt, she does it in a very loving way. This is what makes her rather popular even to this day in Contemporary Christian Music.

On 1982’s Age To Age, Grant shows that she is now a beautiful, young, Christian woman. Grant, whose previous albums included her self titled debut album (recorded when she was only a teenager), My Father’s Eyes, 2 live albums, and 1980’s

Cover of "Age to Age"

forgettable Never Alone.

Grant takes a new musical direction with Age to Age. She and then-piano player Michael W. Smith experiment with some of the musical stylings that made the music of Fame popular at the time on Don’t Run Away.  Grant also grows up lyrically on Got to Let It Go where she exclaims “Lord, here’s my heart/ I’ve been keepin’ it from you/ And I’ve got to let it go/ Holdin’ on just brings me worry.

Other songs, she takes a more classically-inclined approach. Songs such as Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and El Shaddai, which is sung partially in Hebrew. The latter talks about the death of Christ.

Age to Age  was the first Christian music album to gain gold certification status in 1983. It became the first of its genre to be certified platinum in 1985. Upon its release, it became the fastest-selling CCM album during that time – unheard of in that genre back then!

Overall this is a good album, but if you are not familiar with Grant’s earlier work – only her later work, you will be dissappointed.  However this is still a classic.


Unfortunately, on Christian radio, music that sounds great is, well, nonexistent these days. That’s not the case with Amy Grant and her 1988 release Lead Me On.

Grant is probably the best-known person of her genre and with this release, it is well-deserved. She is better-known to nonChristians as the singer of such hits as Every Heartbeat, That’s What Love is For, Good For Me, and the number one hit Baby, Baby – all tracks from her multiplatinum release Heart In Motion, which is more pop-oriented and a little less sophisticated. Lead Me On is not that kind of album. It is much more sophisticated both lyrically and melodically.

On 1974, Grant talks about how she came to faith and how her faith has stayed with her through the years. She exclaims “stay with me/ make it ever new/ so time will not undo/ as the years go by/ how I need to see/ that’s still me.” Also, the way that Grant harmonizes with herself in a very echo-like manner is nothing short of beautiful.

Lead Me On is the best-known single from this album. Rarely does a song address history in light of religion: Grant addresses slavery and the Holocaust and what the victims of such tragedies were thinking by saying “man hurts man/ time and time, time again/ and we drown in the wake of our power/ somebody tell me why.”

Every single track on this album is great – which is a rarity in any genre. One thing that is constantly overlooked is the great production value of this album. For example, the excellent drum solo intros on Sure Enough and All Right.  It is a greatly overshadowed album and deserves much more respect than it is given.

 


Hands down, Michael W Smith is one of the smartest artists both musically and

In 1984, former keyboardist for Amy Grant Michael W. Smith released "2," the follow-up album to his well-received debut, "Michael W Smith Project."

lyrically in Christian music. Not only can he write though-provoking lyrics, but he’s also a classically-trained pianist.

Smith shows that sometimes you don’t need to be familiar with his previous project, Michael W. Smith Project in order to have any sort of appreciation for his second album, 2.

One of the most remarkable contributions is the use of fellow CCM rocker Dan Huff of White Heart fame. Huff plays guitars on most of the albums tracks.

On the song A Way, which sounds alot like a prayer out of the book of Psalms, Smith pleads with God “You find me waiting for a miracle/ You hear me praying for a plan/ You are the only one prepared to rescue me/ then you take away the distance/ found between the truth and me/ and you give us simple reason to my restless rhyme/ Woa, hide me in the heaven/ You have held within your hand/ And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind.” This is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album because it is basically a prayer.

However, the biggest eye-opener comes on Restless Heart, which features a suprise duet with CCM superstar Amy Grant. Though she is only credited for background vocals on Restless Heart, she is clearly singing a duet with Smith. It is a welcomed surprise nevertheless. Grant and her then-husband Gary Chapman also contribute background vocals on All I Needed To Say.

The greatest thing  about this album, however, is the fact that Smith shows what EXACTLY he can do with his classical piano training. He shows off his classical chops on such songs as Musical Instruments and Wings of the Wind.



Up until 1985, nobody ever would have thought that the words “Amy Grant” and the word “rock star” would have ever been uttered in the same sentence. That is, until 1985 when she released Unguarded.

This was definitely an album that broke many barriers within Contemporary Christian music back in the 1980’s. For starters, not every song was about Christ – some, such as I Love You, were love songs written for her then-husband, Gary Chapman.

For a Christian album, it has very few musical weak spots and one thing is clear: Grant knows how to rock. She proves it on the opening track, Love Of Another Kind, a track that seems reminiscent of  Jump by Van Halen. However, Grant truly shines on Find A Way and Wise Up. However, they sound better when performed in a live setting.

Unguarded shows its weakness in the end song, The Prodigal – which is a retelling of the story of the prodigal son from the perspective of the father. It is simply overproduced and cheesy.

Overall, I would highly recommend this album due to the fact that, for a Christian album, it does state the beliefs of the artist in a very creative way but at the same time, it does not come across as too preachy.