Amy Grant has been on the music scene for decades now and though multiple songs out of her catalog mark life moments for many fans, it’s her Christmas music that has made her a staple for even more generations to come. (Though “Baby Baby” will also hold true for several more decades.)
Grant released her first Christmas album, aptly titled, A Christmas Album, in 1983. (She does not still own the sweater featured on the album’s cover, though she wished she did.) The album featured several Christmas classics and new songs that have since become Christmas classics. In 1992 Grant released her second Christmas album, Home For Christmas, which was wildly successful and featured the new songs, “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song),” “The Night Before Christmas,” and “Grown-up Christmas List.”
Grant recently released her first Christmas album in over 20 years, Tennessee Christmas, which features the title track from her first Christmas album and a few new originals that reflect on Grant’s life now and her memories of Christmases past.
I recently had a chance to discuss this new album, Christmas memories, Christmas hopes and a few other things with Grant and it was one of the most insightful conversations I’ve ever been a part of– which is probably one of the reasons she’s able to create new, relational music about a topic that’s been covered (and covered again) for centuries. Grant understands that life is hard and things change and those are just two of the topics covered on Tennessee Christmas.
Grant explained, “There was a time in our family that there were five generations of my family alive in Nashville… we were all there together. That’s the era when I wrote ‘Tennessee Christmas.’ … Now, I have family everywhere and I just want the front door to open and to see everybody’s faces. And that became the song ‘To Be Together.'”
One of Grant’s biggest desires in recording the album was to be able to reflect on the hard parts of the holidays after hearing so many stories from friends and friends of friends about experiences that are “so real.” These stories are covered in the new songs “Another Merry Christmas” and “Melancholy Christmas.”
“I’m inspired to write because I’m trying to create a welcoming space for someone to enter into,” Grant said about covering the topics of grief, loss and other painful parts of life.
Songwriting came about as a way for Grant to “communicate my journey of faith,” which is also how she came to write Christmas songs.
“There’s an openness and hopefulness…everyone wants to feel loved and express love at Christmas time. I latched onto that open door creatively at a young age and I’m going ‘oh my gosh! People are clanging beer mugs together at the corner pub singing slurry-voiced ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. I am made for this!’ It just connected my love of creativity and music with a platform that I felt like I could honestly step onto and communicate something that mattered to me.”
Though Grant’s Home for Christmas went three-times Platinum and A Christmas Album is certified Platinum, it’s this new Christmas album and her current stage of life that have led her to appreciate the mundane and frustrating parts of life.
“Just trying to look at all of it, the chaoticness, the traffic jam, all of it, going– it’s all a part of the big story, it’s all beautiful, there’s a holiness to all of it. Just because God is here even when we can’t feel him, even when we run from Him, he’s still here.”
It’s obvious in talking to Grant that this isn’t just another album for her and it likely won’t be just another Christmas album for fans. Her unique perspective on life and the hardships of others makes her new music stand out from her peppier tunes, but it causes you to take stock of your life and those around you a little more. Which is always a good thing.
Tennessee Christmas was released in Cracker Barrel stores nationwide as a part of its Spotlight Music Program. An opportunity Grant more than welcomed, “That welcoming environment that I want people to feel in music, it’s that same environment that Cracker Barrel wants that guest to feel in their restaurants. I was thrilled when they wanted to have my record available. We’re definitely on the same page in what we’re trying to create for people.”
If you want to hear for yourself how thoughtful Amy Grant is in real life, here are a few of my favorite moments from our chat.