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Weekly Webb: Different sides of Grant’s life are well-lived

January 27, 2017 GMT

My favorite interviews are the ones that change my perception about someone or something.

That’s the way it went Monday morning when I spoke by phone with Christian pop singer Amy Grant. The six-time Grammy Award winner is making her Billings debut at the Alberta Bair Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Because she made her mark in Christian and gospel music, I was expecting the conversation to shift toward religion. Instead, Grant talked about her 27-year-old daughter Millie donating a kidney to a friend, hosting a one-woman play in her home, and helping a disabled woman climb a tree.

Grant was genuine and cheerful. I loved her spirit and the excitement she has for the future.

“Music gives us access to whatever is churning inside,” Grant said.

Grant is the rare child performer who sustained her music career into adulthood, earning praise in multiple platforms. Grant is an author, actress, songwriter and pop star.

One of her biggest hits, the 1991 pop song, “Baby Baby,” was written about that same daughter who was scheduled to donate her kidney on Tuesday to her best friend in New York City.

“She is very brave,” Grant said.

Millie famously joined her mother onstage at the 1992 Grammy Award show during Grant’s performance of “Baby Baby.”

Grant’s vocal perfection was discovered at 15 when her original song, “Mountain Men,” got the attention of Word Records, who offered Grant a contract five weeks before she turned 16. She recorded her first album a year later and the self-titled album was released just before she graduated from high school in 1978.

She hit the road to tour and ended up meeting her first husband, Gary Chapman, before she turned 20. Grant became the first contemporary Christian artist to earn platinum status on her “Age to Age” album and hit No. 1 on the pop charts with “Baby Baby.”

For all that, Grant comes across as well grounded and intensely connected to people and nature.

She has turned part of her Nashville farm into a public place where she hosts summer camps for kids and last fall held a women’s retreat featuring a life coach from Portland, Ore. Her son, Matthew, taught the participants how to climb trees.

Amy Grant gathers wood on her Nashville farm.

“The idea was that the whole group would do things together. If all members of the group couldn’t do something, no one did. The woman with cerebral palsy got up high enough in a tree to be above people’s heads. It was a powerful experience.”

A fire pit Matthew built has been such a hit with visitors that Grant and her husband, country star Vince Gill, decided to keep it burning for the new year.

“I love to camp and I love nature. I felt this idea running through my head — we should start a fire on Dec. 31, and invite people to come keep the fire for 48 hours. I kind of vacillated back and forth, it’s a good idea, it’s a bad idea. I decided the week before Christmas to do it. This is reminding me about fires in my life that need tending.”

It’s all about living your creativity, Grant said.

“Keeping the fire has been a game changer. I feel like I want to bring that into people’s lives.”

When the conversation came to a close, Grant apologized for being boring (which she wasn’t) and offered to text me pictures of her fire.

Ten photos arrived, showing rocking chairs around a humble fire pit that Matthew built, with a beaming Grant in a cowboy hat carrying wood.

She also sent this message: “Hope this whets your appetite to discover some new experiences in the coming year.”

Amy, one of those new experiences is discovering someone as genuine as you.