Merry Christmas from Amy Grant

November 20, 1997|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Amy Grant loves Christmas music. She loves it enough to have released an album of Christmas music back in 1992, and to have done Christmas shows in Nashville every year since.

The shows have done well, too. Not that Grant is in it for the money -- truth is, she donates her profits each year to charity -- but she does get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that the Christmas show she puts on with the Nashville Symphony can sell out the Nashville Arena for two nights each season.

Still, her ambitions are bigger than that. "I've always wanted to do a Christmas tour," she says. So this fall, she and the Nashville Symphony -- along with Michael W. Smith and CeCe Winans -- are going to be taking her Christmas show on the road.

This isn't just a pop tour with a few Christmas numbers thrown in, either. "It's a symphony tour with Christmas hymns, and 1940s Americana Christmas songs, a couple of original Christmas songs," she says.

"We're going to do just one short section of kind of signature songs. I don't even think we're doing the whole songs. Michael Smith is going to do a song called 'Place in This World,' CeCe is going to do part of that song she did with Whitney Houston, 'Count on Me.' I'm going to do a little bit of 'Takes a Little Time,' and a song called 'El Shaddai.'

"But for the most part, it really is, it's a Christmas tour. With all of the elegance and nostalgia that I would want to see." She laughs, and adds, "Since I'm doing it, it does kind of reflect what I would want to see."

Grant is a Christmas traditionalist, and as such, has little interest in the kind of flavor-of-the-moment musical gimmickry some Christmas shows employ. "My favorite Christmas album of all time would have to be Nat 'King' Cole, and then shortly behind that would probably be Bing Crosby," she says. "Also Vince Guaraldi's 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' -- it sounds weird, but it's really a great CD.

"So this is more along the lines of a classic old Christmas tour. In fact, for the last two years, a dear friend of our family has come to the show, and the first year he saw it, he said, 'Amy, I kept thinking Bing Crosby was going to walk out onstage.'" She laughs, obviously delighted. "I said, 'Oh, wow! You could not have paid me a higher compliment.'"

For this tour, Grant is working with Target stores and Compassion International to raise money for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Nashville, as well as child sponsorships for Compassion International. Over the last four years, her Christmas shows in Nashville have raised millions of dollars for charity.

But as glad as she is to do good works, she really hopes she can share some of her own love of Christmas with her audience. "I keep thinking, 'If I were walking into a Christmas performance, what would I really want?'" she says. "And the fact is, I really want for somebody to provide me with music that allows me to embrace what my Christmas is. That might mean singing along, it might mean listening, it might mean just a moment to let time stand still.

"Then if people walk away going, 'That really wasn't really my cup of tea,' well, the fact is, it is mine. And the best I can do is do what sounds good to me."

Amy Grant

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 23, 6 p.m.

WHERE: USAirways Arena

TICKETS: $40, $30

CALL: 410-481-7328

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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