Make us your home page

Bring tissues to Amy Grant concert in Clearwater

"You are the enemy of eye makeup, Amy Grant!" I tell the Christian pop singer in a phone interview from Nashville before she heads to Clearwater this week on the tail end of her yearlong tour in support of her first studio album in a decade, How Mercy Looks From Here.

"Life will do that won't it? We struggle and we cry but it's what makes the belly laughs even harder," says pop music's most successful Christian artist.

Nashville producer Marshall Altman (Eric Paslay's Friday Night) helmed an album full of sincere songs of love, loss, faith and resilience. And it includes the help of some famous friends, including James Taylor, Carole King, Sheryl Crow, Will Hoge and Paslay, who wrote the only song not penned by Grant on the album, Deep as it is Wide, about love in the afterlife. Grant's husband, country superstar Vince Gill, also makes an appearance.

By the album's end it's clear this songwriter has been put through the ringer.

The singer's mother, Gloria, was gripped with dementia and died in 2011. Her father, Burton, also has advanced-stage dementia, and no longer remembers her or her three sisters. It was her mother who gave the album its focus when Grant came by for a visit before a concert.

"Oh you sing? Sing something for me," her mother asked her. With a lump in her throat Amy Grant sang an old familiar hymn to the woman who taught her to talk. As she was leaving, her mother stopped her in the doorway and asked for a favor.

"She said, 'When you go out on that stage, sing something that matters,' " Grant recalled, adding, "Note to self: Even someone who doesn't have all their faculties can still be quite wise."

Grant, 51, released her first album in 1977 at age 16 and over the next 30-odd years won six Grammys in multiple categories, scored six No. 1 hits including Baby Baby and Every Heartbeat and became the most successful artist to cross over and back again to gospel music. She took some backlash from sections of the Christian community after the breakup of her first marriage to Christian musician Gary Chapman in 1999, followed a year later by her marriage to Gill.

"I think it's so easy to look at someone in the public eye and have a lot of commentary on what they should or shouldn't do," she said when asked about today's young pop stars like Miley Cyrus. "Life is a long journey and we all have things that make us who we are and they come to us in different forms."

Now her blended family of five children with Gill brings a new awareness of life's ebbs and flows, she said, as her "tribe" expands with weddings and babies but also experiences loss. This flow is what gives the album its title song.

How Mercy Looks From Here is dedicated to her mother and is set in the devastating flood that clobbered Nashville in 2010 — in the same week that Grant attended the funeral of a friend and the wedding of Gill's oldest daughter.

Then there's Shovel in Hand, about attending the funeral of her son's friend who was killed in a car accident ("I watch my son shovel in hand / go from bullet-proof boy to a broken man") that had Sheryl Crow, a mother of two boys, sobbing in the recording studio.

See what I mean? Even Sheryl Crow can't take this stuff.

.if you go

Amy Grant performs 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $55-$100. (727) 791-7400.

Bring tissues to Amy Grant concert in Clearwater 04/29/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Three ways to top toast anytime


    We're getting better and better at putting Things on Toast, a culinary category that's hard to beat for its versatility. Some spreads applied thin can boost flavor while creating a protective layer between crisp surface and squishy toppings. Good loaves of unsliced bread allow us to control the degree of thickness …

    Grilled Corn and Scallion Toast With Cilantro Crema
  2. St. Pete Coffee Tours offer a glimpse into the world of local craft coffee

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — What started as a small gathering of friends is now a growing business that has people hyped about St. Petersburg specialty coffee.

    At Craft Kafe, Jason Waits explains Kyoto-style drip coffee during a St. Pete Coffee Tour in May.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Tuesday May 30


    Finding Neverland: The hit Broadway show follows the story behind playwright J.M. Barrie as he struggles to find inspiration to create Peter Pan, until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, …

    Mitchell Wray, Jordan Cole, Finn Faulconer and Ben Krieger as the Llewelyn Davies Boys in the National Tour of Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  5. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

    Soft pretzels are displayed with a beer at the Features Gastropub in the Riverview 14 GDX  theater in Gibsonton, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.   The 5,900-square-foot Features Gastropub open in the . This element of the project is the brainchild of Philadelphia chef Brian Duffy, who appears frequently on NBC's The Today Show and the Spike TV show Bar Rescue