Amy Grant’s 'Tennessee Christmas' Offers Comfort and Joy

“It Made Me Aware of How Powerful Music Can Be”

This week marks the end of one of Amy Grant’s busiest holiday seasons in recent memory. Over the weekend, she completed a two-month symphony tour with Michael W. Smith and Jordan Smith. Her four-week Christmas at the Ryman residency in Nashville with husband Vince Gill wraps Thursday (Dec. 22).

At the time of our interview, she was brewing a fresh pot of coffee to get caffeinated for another Ryman show later that evening.

“Every night it’s just such fun music,” she said over the phone. “Even if you’re tired, by the time the night is kicking off, everybody is game and good to go. It’s really been fun.”

Of course, she’s a total professional who has been making music for more than 30 years. Her latest collection, Tennessee Christmas, is a 42-minute holiday pickin’ party of acoustic favorites and new originals. Recorded mostly at her home studio with producers Shane McAnally, Marshall Altman and Ed Cash, each of the 13 songs is as cozy as a night in by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

“The other Christmas records that were more cinematic. You know, big productions,” she said. “The idea we all shared was, ‘Let’s make this energy appropriate for an audience of one. So even if it’s gangbusters energy, it wouldn’t feel overplayed if it were just heard by one person.’ Everything feels like it happened in the same space at the same time even though it happened during crazy scheduling.”

Her favorite on the album to perform at the moment is “To Be Together,” which she co-wrote with Chris Eaton.

“I just love the message of that song,” she said. “There’s a lot of dysfunction in all of our lives, and sometimes the bravest thing you can do is go home at Christmas. All of us build a life that’s so far beyond who we were when we lived at home. All of us. You have to be brave sometimes to go home.

“And when you’re the one that’s home wanting people to come home,” she added, “sometimes the bravest thing you can do is welcome everybody back as who they are now and not make everybody be who they were.”

The lyrics also brought her comfort in time she needed it most. Days after the song was completed, her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend were involved in a horrendous car accident.

“A car lost control on the interstate and hit them,” Grant recalled. “We were in ICU and they were resetting broken bones. But I just kept going, ‘All that matters, no matter how this turns out, is that we were here together. No matter what the road looks like from here on, we’ll just face it together.’

"You know how songs will just get stuck in your head, and sometimes it’s a commercial like an advertisement? It drives you crazy? The back half of that chorus was stuck in my head and it was just incredibly comforting. It made me aware of how powerful music can be. And I don’t know ... it made me hope that that song would help everybody else.”

Her daughter is fully recovered now and home from New York for the holidays for a few weeks, and the entire family is looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.

"All of our family is coming to the last show," she said. "The kids that aren’t singing will be out in the front. Jenny Gill every night is onstage and Corinna, the youngest of our kids, is 15. Depending on her school schedule exam schedule, sometimes she comes down and sings."

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