As she celebrates her 25th anniversary in the music industry, Amy Grant is returning to her roots on her forthcoming A&M/Word Records release "Legacy ... Hymns & Faith." The 14-track collectio

As she celebrates her 25th anniversary in the music industry, Amy Grant is returning to her roots on her forthcoming A&M/Word Records release "Legacy ... Hymns & Faith." The 14-track collection features such standards as "Softly and Tenderly," "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and "Holy, Holy, Holy," as well as four new tunes.

Co-produced by Brown Bannister and Grant's husband, Vince Gill, the project is due in stores May 21 and precedes a new pop album slated for September, tentatively titled "Simple Things."

Grant credits Mike Blanton of her management firm Blanton, Harrell, Cook & Corzine with the idea for the album. "He [asked] how I would feel about doing a record that would honor my roots," recalls Grant, who has known Blanton since her teen years when he was her youth pastor at Nashville's Belmont Church. "He was talking about going back to the songs that helped shape [my life] and make me who I am and just honor that part of my life. When he put it like that, I got so enthusiastic. Immediately I started thinking of one song after the other, started remembering my childhood, and how my theology and my whole understanding of God was shaped through music."

Grant made a rough work tape of songs she was considering and gave it to Gill for his input. "I wanted Vince to be a part of it, because I felt like the direction of this album needed to be very honest and acoustic, and he really has the credentials to direct it that way. I wanted Brown to be involved, because I felt like we come from the same background," says Grant, who first began recording for Word at 16. "So we did it in 29 working days. We didn't try to over-think anything; we just worked and worked and worked."

Grant wrote two of the four new songs: "What You Already Own" and "Do You Remember the Time." The latter was co-written with Gill and Keith Thomas, who is producing the upcoming pop record. Gill also contributed "The River's Gonna Keep On Rolling." The fourth new tune is a cover of MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine," which was penned by that group's Bart Millard. It was recently named song of the year at the 33rd annual Dove Awards.

The album closes with an exuberant version of "Marching to Zion," featuring a cast of Grant's longtime friends singing and her father, Burton Grant, saying a prayer. "I asked my dad if he would lead us in a prayer before we sang," Grant recalls. "Vince was in the control room, and when he heard me say that, he motioned to the engineer to hit record ... When I went in to hear the mix, I heard my dad's prayer, and I got the biggest lump in my throat." The first 200,000 units of "Legacy" will include a special 22-minute behind-the-scenes DVD on the making of the record.

A lot has changed in Grant's life in the past few years. She and longtime husband Gary Chapman divorced. She married Gill, and they have a 1-year-old daughter, Corrina. Christian consumers sometimes withdraw support from artists who have divorced, and when asked if she is concerned about her Christian fan base's continued support following her own divorce, Grant responds: "If somebody is going to be critical, they are going to be critical. If somebody wants to hear new music from me, they are going to hear new music from me."

She adds that the hymns record is "not a marketing ploy on my part to come back in and say, 'Gee, in case everybody is mad at me, I think I'll do a record that's all hymns.' It's been said in other ways that I'm trying to get back [in] people's good graces by coming in with a good foot forward. I have to say, that never occurred to me. The timing for the record had everything to do with, after 25 years, honoring my roots."

There are tentative plans for a boxed set celebrating Grant's career to be released in late 2002 or 2003.





Excerpted from the May 4, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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