Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Always one to wear her heart on her sleeve musically, Amy Grant's willingness to be vulnerable and surprisingly forthright in her creative expression has earned the 42-year-old singer/songwriter devoted fans in contemporary Christian and mainstream pop circles.

Since her last album, 1997's "Behind the Eyes," she divorced longtime husband Gary Chapman, a Christian singer/songwriter with whom she has three children. In 2000, she married country superstar Vince Gill, and they now have a 2-year-old daughter.

So the songs on Grant's new album, "Simple Things," out Aug. 19, reflect a season of life marked by choices, regrets, healing, love and a renewed appreciation for God's mercy.

She says, "One thing I like about this record taking three years to make is that it captured a really common but beautiful transformation," Grant tells Billboard as she settles onto a big, comfortable sofa in her Nashville home.

"People go through it all the time. We all make choices that carry great consequences and a lot of times things that bring about a lot of shame. I feel several songs capture the process of learning to forgive yourself, the process of trying to be honest-and holding your head up again, feeling the beauty of the other side and feeling the weightlessness of grace and the maturity that come with that life experience."

Like her previous albums, the new set is a portrait of Grant's current life and times, and it was an album she says couldn't be rushed. "I wasn't ready to pull a record together," she says of the original timetable. "I'd been through so many personal changes. I didn't want to belittle any of those things by not having enough personal time to process them."

Although still working hard, she admits her priorities have shifted. "Having new music is one of many things going on in my life," Grant says. "When the kids were younger, we had to fold it into what the next career move was, and now I kind of feel like we are folding the next career move into the bigger picture of life. I've never felt so free from expectation about what's going to happen with an album."

The first single, the title track, is currently No. 23 on Billboard's AC chart and No. 6 on the Christian AC tally. The album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Contemporary Christian Albums chart and No. 23 on The Billboard 200, sold 28,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The song "Happy" is an insightful revelation about delving deeper in a relationship and appreciating the power of little gestures. "Out in the Open" is about "freedom from shame and forgiving yourself." "I Don't Know Why" was co-written by Grant and Wayne Kirkpatrick.

"Beautiful" is about the end of a relationship and is, ironically, a duet with Gill. "How much more interesting to have two people that are in love sing a song about [a relationship being] over," Grant says of the twist.

The album was produced primarily by Keith Thomas (responsible for Grant's biggest hit, "Baby, Baby") with additional cuts produced by Brown Bannister and Kirkpatrick.

Grant and Gill will hit the road together starting Dec. 1 for a 19-date holiday tour called Vince and Amy's Simple Christmas.





Excerpted from the Sept. 6, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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