Hear Amy Grant's song "Our Time Is Now," featuring Carole King, from Grant's guest-packed first all-new album in 10 years.
With philanthropy, touring and teasing fans with a few new tunes on holiday and hits packages, Amy Grant has remained visible, yet it's been a decade since she released an album of all-new songs. That will change May 14 with the arrival of "How Mercy Looks From Here." And today, a week early, listen to an exclusive stream of the album track "Our Time Is Now," which features a special guest performing with Grant: famed singer/songwriter Carole King.
Grant explains that King's participation on the song was catalyzed when they crossed paths at a West Coast fundraiser. "Everybody was singing Carole King songs and Carole was there also singing her songs with everybody," Grant says. "After the performance was over, everybody was hugging and [saying] 'Wasn't that fun?' and I said, 'Hey, we're in the final weeks of this record. Is there any chance that you could make time to sing on it?' She's like, 'Get me the file this week. I'll do it.' At every turn it just felt like the planets were aligning."
The creation of the song and album were propelled by a new energy Grant found in recent years. "I never stopped being creative, but I didn't have the drive to get in the studio and work in a focused way, and that had a lot to do with my parents' health," says Grant, whose mother died in 2011 and whose father suffers from Alzheimer's. "After Mom died, after that first wave of debilitating grief, I found an incredible amount of energy. That energy was the driving force for this record."
Grant poured herself into the new album, writing or co-writing every song with the exception of country newcomer Eric Paslay's "Deep As It Is Wide," which she recorded with Paslay and friend Sheryl Crow. She also enlisted two of her musical heroes, Carole King and James Taylor: in addition to King joining Grant on "Our Time Is Now," Taylor sings on first single "Don't Try So Hard," which went to Christian AC radio stations on March 29. Decca Records will release the album on May 20 in the United Kingdom, and work the single there as well.
Grant launched her career as a teen, and later became Christian music's first crossover act when "Baby, Baby" and "Every Heartbeat" propelled her to mainstream pop stardom. Grant is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame who has earned six Grammy and 25 Dove Awards as well as three multiplatinum albums, six platinum and four gold. She has a record 15 No. 1s on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart, two Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers and has sold 17 million albums in the United States, according to the RIAA.
After 30 years with Word Entertainment, Grant moved to EMI Christian Music Group (now Capitol Christian Music Group) in 2007 in what was originally a catalog deal. "We had it in our agreement that if Amy ever made a new record, she would agree to talk to us about it," CCMG CEO Bill Hearn says. "I'm just really flattered, humbled and grateful that Amy chose to do a new record with us. Her catalog has performed very well and it's encouraged her to tour and to make new music. Not only have we done a great thing for our company, we've done a great thing for our music industry to get Amy back out in the marketplace."
"The wait has been worth it," CCMG VP of marketing David Sylvester says. "Amy and [producer] Marshall Altman have made a significant record that top to bottom is an incredible listen."
"How Mercy Looks From Here" marks Grant's first time working with Altman (Natasha Bedingfield, Marc Broussard, Matt Nathanson). "Marshall and I both thrive in slightly different versions of the same organized chaos," Grant says. "I felt instantly at home creatively with him, and I looked forward to every single day of work. Because I felt so comfortable with him right off the bat, I was able to speak my greatest insecurities about my creativity, and then after we got to know each other, it made the process in the studio very free form."
Now that the record's done, Grant has been working with the label to get the word out. "One of our main strategies is to reconnect Amy with key retailers," Sylvester says. "We worked to create opportunities for them to spend time with her and hear the album. It's been so long since she's had a new studio album that it was crucial to focus there. We also did key visits with major mainstream and Christian accounts. Lifeway and Family Christian were incredibly excited about the album and built very strong plans. We have early pre-orders going there, which are off to a strong start. There is a digital deluxe, and the physical deluxe is exclusive to Target."
Grant has channeled a lot of living into this collection of songs, and she hopes her experiences help others see their own challenges in a new light. "What I want is for somebody to hear this record and feel compelled to reframe the difficult things in their life in a way that they can see the value in it," she says. "That's the experience I had as I was writing these songs."