Idol Chatter

AmyGrantPicforIdolchatter.jpgThe Christmas Collection,” Amy Grant’s second album with her new label, EMI, is mostly re-released holiday hits from the past, but it has a few surprises, including a cover of a Barbra Streisand arrangement of “Jingle Bells” and a new song she wrote with her husband, Vince Gill. We talked with Grant about writing with Vince, her upcoming all-new album and how she found out her daughter could sing.
Beliefnet: For a collection of old Christmas music, this new album has a lot of new tracks on it.
Grant: Yeah, two traditional songs and two new songs. There’s Barbra Streisand’s fast-paced version of “Jingle Bells,” and “Count Your Blessings,” made famous in the movie “White Christmas.” I’ve always liked that version that Barbra Streisand did. For several years I performed it live. And you know, one thing about Christmas music is, it has its day in the sun and then it’s not a centerpiece anymore, so it gets harder and harder to find.
Then there’s one I wrote with my husband, Vince Gill, called “Baby, It’s Christmas” that’s jazz trio-ish, with strings, and a song I wrote with Chris Eaton called “I Need A Silent Night.”

Beliefnet: Do you and Vince write together, just sitting around the kitchen?
Grant: No, we don’t. And we kind of scratch our heads about that, too, because we both have songwriting appointments all the time. I’ll call somebody up, “Hey, I’ve got a song idea, come help me finish it.” It’s a very organized time. Somebody shows up and you got your direction. When you live with somebody, you know, you’re just less organized about your time.
But I know when he’s working on a song, and he knows when I’m working on one, because we’re always kind of absent-mindedly playing through the cords and singing different things over again. This summer he was playing this really romantic sort of jazz chord progression. One morning–I had just written the song with Chris Eaton, “I Need a Silent Night,” which is kind of energetic–and I said, “Boy it would be such a great balance if we used that music and write a romantic Christmas song.” That’s how it happened.
Beliefnet: Is one of you better at words, and the other better at melodies?
Grant: Well, Vince is a lot more proficient on guitar, and so he can kind of go anywhere singing and play right along with what he’s singing. And I’m more limited on guitar, but because of that I’m always having to make things up. Vince will come through and say, “Now, how’d you make that chord?”
But I have this next record of new songs–I haven’t done a well-thought-out record of all new songs since the late ’90s. On “Simple Things” [in 2003], my head was in a million directions. It’s not my best work. But I’m going in the studio June 5th. And this really sounds crazy, but I’m actually going to play on every track. It’s been such an integral part of the song writing process, the quirky way that I write the music. I feel like the way that I limped through these songs is intrinsic to the sound.
Beliefnet: I ran into somebody this summer who had just gotten off the Michael W. Smith Cruise Boat that you went on. He told me he had seen your daughter sing with you.
Grant: I heard her for the first time on that boat.
Beliefnet: Really? Are we going to get a second generation?
Grant: Well, it’s funny, a friend of mine, a musician, wants to take her in the studio. “Three songs,” he says, “and we can get her a record deal.” And I thought that’s the worst idea I’ve heard in my whole life. She’s such a great, level-headed kid. She’s 16, she plays lacrosse, and she’s probably the worst member of the swim team, but she’s actually on the swim team. She’s just such a great, fun kid. I would never, say, “Hey, why don’t you get up in front of everybody and start a life of awkwardness?” But I do want her to sing on my next record, which has never even been a thought. But, when she opened her mouth, I just–the sound of her voice is really captivating.

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