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With six Grammys, numerous Dove Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and numerous other accolades to her credit, Amy Grant is an American music icon who has erased lines between genres and earned the respect of fans and peers with her honesty, vulnerability and ceaseless creativity. Whether laying her soul bare in her 2008 Book "Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far" or exploring faith and family in a diverse catalog of hits from "El Shaddai" to "Baby Baby," Grant's artistry has continually resonated with audiences since she first hit the national spotlight as a fresh-faced teen with a guitar three decades ago.
Her latest effort, Somewhere Down the Road, is a potent collection that takes the listener on a musical journey that reverberates with messages of resiliency, promise and hope. The 12-track set includes four new songs, several previously unreleased gems from her musical vault and a newly recorded version of "Arms of Love." The new album also serves up four poignant treasures from Grant's existing songbook, including the powerful title track.
"From a work stand point, I've had the amazing opportunity that anything I've ever wanted to try, for some reason, the door has opened. I love music as much as I always have, but I feel very contented when it comes to work. What brings the sizzle back to me is a great idea and it can be somebody saying, â hey, I have this idea for a song!' As soon as they speak the words I go, â Ahhh, that's great. We've got to sit down and do it right now.' That's how I felt about this project."
Somewhere Down the Road reflects an accomplished artist at a time of renewed creativity and also echoes the life of a woman who is not afraid to write and sing about life's most heart-wrenching moments as well as the sublime joys. Amy Grant has always been honest, vulnerable, real, never afraid to share where she is on life's journey. "There have been times in my life that I was sitting in the cat bird seat and everything was going my way but currently, this is a time [with] a lot of uncertainty within my extended family as we've experienced pain, loss, and joy," admits Grant who has dealt with aging parents and the loss of a close friend this past year. "This is the kind of record where it takes maturity to put out, so we went back and looked at old songs, unreleased songs, and new songs that fit together in a way that I think will make a really amazing and intriguing journey.
The first single from the new project, "Better Than a Hallelujah," penned by Chapin Hartford and Sarah Hart, is Grant's first new radio single since "Simple Things" in 2003. When Amy's manager, Jennifer Cooke, emailed her the song, she knew she had to record it. "The honesty of it, the vulnerability of the lyrics, the beautiful melody, and that the song found me right where I was in my own journey was incredibly powerful," says Grant, admitting the song resonated strongly with her as she dealt with the death of her longtime friend musician Ruth McGinnis. "The song is just so poignant and redemptive. In the lyric there is no religious code or lingo going on and the message is true, it's good news. I love every scenario it's painting."
Though Grant is an industry veteran, and one of a short list of artists to have scored No. 1 hits in each of the last three decades, Somewhere Down the Road finds her enjoying several first time experiences---among them recording in the new studio she and husband Vince Gill built in their Nashville home, contributing one of her own paintings as part of the cover art, and for the first time recording a duet with her 17-year-old-daughter Sarah. "â Overnight' was written by Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby. I've known Natalie since she was six and she's a great songwriter. She sent me a song that she had written called â Overnight.' It's talking about if things happened overnight, you wouldn't appreciate the process. It says â If it all just happened overnight, you would never know what it means. If it all happened overnight, you would never learn to believe in what you can't see.'" Though her stepdaughter, Jenny, sang background vocals on Grant's hymns records and her eight-year-old daughter Corrina added a spoken word contribution to her last Christmas collection, this marks Grant's first duet with one of her children. "I've wanted to sing with Sarah for a long time and when this song showed up I thought it would be perfect for us to record."
"Hard Times" is another new tune on the album, which Grant co-wrote with Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks. "Mindy Smith asked me to sing a background part on her latest record and they were producing it," Grant says of her introduction to her collaborators. "They already had the idea for the verses and I wrote the chorus and we wrote the last verse together. It's been hard times on a lot of levels for a lot of people. I don't know anybody that is saying this is the easiest and best time in life."
Among the other new tracks, "Unafraid," is a poignant ballad that has become a favorite at Grant's live shows. "Women really relate to it," Grant says of the song whose three verses chronicle women's relationship to their husband, children and aging parents. "Anytime I have sung it live, I always have requests, â Please record that' and that's why I did."
A family trip provided inspiration for the song "Third World Woman." "I wrote â Third World Woman' with Chris Eaton having been inspired by a recent trip to Africa," Amy relates. "Really when you boil it down, the song is a reminder to do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."
Amy co-wrote "Find What You're Looking For" with one of her favorite singer/songwriters, Mindy Smith. "The inspiration came from Mary Elizabeth Chapman, grandmother of my three older children, Matt, Millie, and Sarah," Amy says. "She was full of homespun wisdom and spoke these words to me often--always with a smile: 'there's a little good in the worst of us, and a little bad in the best of us, so it never behooves any of us to criticize the rest of us.' I built the song around it to remember her."
Somewhere Down the Road also gave her a chance to re-record a longtime favorite, "Arms of Love." "It's been almost 30 years since I first sang â Arms Of Love' and it was a real treat to re-record it at home with Vince this year," she says with a smile. "The words still ring true."
In culling through her musical vault to select previously unreleased recordings that fit with the theme of Somewhere Down the Road, two songs stood out as perfect for this collection "Come Into My World" and "What is the Chance of That." "'Come Into My World' is the rawest, most vulnerable of the two and it just required a lot of distance from that time in my life. I wrote that in the years prior to going through a divorce. . .and so the song is really a downer," she admits. "I don't feel that same way now and I hadn't actually heard it in over a decade but was moved by it and thought â Wow, I remember how that felt. Thank goodness I don't feel that way now, but that is a very real feeling for a lot of people at different times in life.'"
Every song of the album represents part of Grant's journey as a mother, wife, songwriter, and believer. Born in Augusta, GA and raised in Nashville, the youngest of four daughters, Grant began her career in her teens, a young singer/songwriter with a guitar and an intense desire to share her faith with the world. Her talent took her beyond contemporary Christian music circles and she became a mainstream pop star in the 80s, her crossover success opening the door for every Christian artist wanting to share their faith from a broader platform. From her chart-topping pop success with "Baby Baby" and "Every Heartbeat" to songs like "Father's Eyes," "Lead Me On" and "El Shaddai" that shaped the Christian music landscape to her recent No. 1 duet with Matthew West "Give This Christmas Away," Grant's artistry and integrity have placed her at the forefront of American music.
She could easily rest of her considerable laurels, but the dawning of a new decade finds her as passionate as ever. "It's all about the idea," she says. "I love the song â Better Than A Hallelujah.' I love the opportunity to get to do a song with my daughter. I love the concept of Somewhere Down the Road. I am personally moved by the concept of our journey through life and because of all the years that have come before, I find myself in a unique and somewhat rare position to be able to sing about that journey, and that's an opportunity I don't want to miss."