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Amy Grant discusses UCCU Center show, and her unexpected Christmas success

November 10, 2017 GMT

Amy Grant started making holiday albums to deflect the attention, not attract it.

There was her first Christmas album, aptly titled “A Christmas Album,” released in 1983 — which came on the heels of her breakout album “Age to Age.” Then there was 1991’s “Home for Christmas,” released after her five-times-platinum album “Heart in Motion” that same year. Her third holiday album, “A Christmas to Remember,” was recorded and released shortly after Grant’s divorce from her first husband, Gary Chapman.

“For me, the thing that I did to sidestep the limelight has become what my career is known for. It’s just so funny to me,” Grant said during a phone interview Monday. She spoke from outside a historic rehearsal space in Nashville, where she was prepping a Christmas show that comes to Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center on Tuesday. That show includes fellow Christian/contemporary recording artist Michael W. Smith (known for his 1991 hit song “Place in This World”), as well as a full symphony orchestra.

“As long as I’ve been making music, I’ve seen experienced people going, ‘Well, I want to put my spin on a holiday record,’ ” she explained. “And usually those relationships between artists and holiday music are kind of short-lived. A holiday record comes on the heels of some kind of other success.”

And yet, here Amy Grant is, 40 years into her chart-topping career, finding notoriety in the thing she initially intended as an escape of sorts.

She and Michael W. Smith became acquainted in the early 1980s when she was attending Vanderbilt University, and they later toured together in the late 1990s. Smith invited Grant to perform some Christmas shows in 2014. Things went so well, she said, that they decided to start touring together during the holidays. This is the third consecutive year they’ve taken their Christmas show on the road.

“Fifteen years had gone by (since our last tour). And we had so much fun,” Grant recalled. “I mean, there’s not many things you go back to after 15 years that feel like there’s more that can happen.”

It’s hard to believe Grant turns 57 this month. But in many ways, this Christmas tour epitomizes the many surprises she’s encountered in her 50s. According to Grant, she never expected this stage of her life to be so exciting.

“There were fun things and unexpected things early on,” she said of her early career. “But the longer you live, when you pursue different passions, you eventually have a freakishly enlarged toolkit. Especially if you experience serial passions — like, I’ll get eaten up with some passion for two years and then I’ll go on to something else — then you combine that with all the people that you have interacted with physically and relationally. It just feels like this wild whirlwind of threads. I’m telling you, about the time your 50s roll around, those threads start getting woven back together. And it is exhilarating.”