Amy Grant on Teaming With Tori Kelly for 25th-Anniversary Remake of Her Hit 'Baby Baby'

Amy Grant performs onstage at Georgia Music Hall Of Fame Awards
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for the Georgia Music Hall of Fame

Amy Grant performs onstage at Georgia Music Hall Of Fame Awards at Georgia World Congress Center on Sept. 26, 2015 in Atlanta.

Amy Grant's smash "Baby Baby," which crowned the Billboard Hot 100 on April 27, 1991 (and led for two weeks total), is celebrating its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, Grant enlisted the help of Tori Kelly for an updated version, featuring new vocals from the pop singer-songwriter, mixed with Grant's original vocal performance.

The updated "Baby Baby" entered Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart (dated May 21) at No. 8, as well as Christian Digital Songs at No. 2, selling 10,000 downloads in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.

The 1991 album that included the original "Baby Baby," Heart in Motion, Grant's eighth studio album, crowned Top Christian Albums for 16 weeks and climbed to No. 10 on the all-genre Billboard 200. The LP produced three additional Hot 100 top 10s in 1991-92: "Every Heartbeat" (No. 2), "That's What Love Is For," (No. 7) and "Good for Me" (No. 8).

Plus. since the chart's inception in 1980, Grant has rolled up a lofty 16 No. 1s on Top Christian Albums.

Originally from Augusta, Ga., Grant grew up in Nashville, and still lives there with her husband, country star Vince Gill. The couple, married in 2000, have one daughter together, Corrina Grant Gill, who turned 15 on March 12. They have four other children from previous marriages: Gill's daughter Jenny, 34, and Grant's son and daughters Matt, 28, Millie, 26 and Sarah, 23. 

Grant recently sat down with Billboard to discuss the making of the new "Baby Baby" and her career a Christian music cornerstone.

Amy Grant & Tori Kelly's 'Baby Baby' Remake Debuts in Hot Christian Songs Top 10

It's the 25th Anniversary of "Baby Baby." When did you decide that you wanted to give the song a makeover?

I wish I could say that it was my decision, but it was my manager Jennifer Cooke's idea. (Grant is managed by Cooke, along with Brooks Parker). When she suggested recording an update of "Baby Baby," I think I was on board with it out of the gate. I'd like to think that it's one of those timeless songs and we just wanted to bring it up-to-date. Plus, with the 25th anniversary, it was good timing.

Did you always have Tori Kelly in mind to collaborate with or did you consider other vocalists?

My daughter Corrina loves Tori Kelly, so initially she suggested the pairing, but yes, I did consider other artists. If I used an older vocalist, it would have been a totally different kind of emotional connect, and with my original vocal being used, it was a good match with Tori.

How interesting that "Baby Baby" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991 and Tori was not born yet; she was born Dec. 14, 1992. Did she know the song when you talked to her initially?

I think that Tori might have heard it a few times, but she's totally driven by her art in a beautiful way, so she connected to the song immediately. Her vocal turned out better than I had even imagined. Simply put, she just knocked it way out of the park.

Your daughter Millie was your inspiration for writing "Baby Baby," correct? Has she heard the update?

I have all of my daughters over for dinner once a week -- it's our thing. We normally don't talk about music, but recently they were over and I played the rough mix. They all really loved it, including Millie.

Why did you decide to use your original vocals for the new version?

Wow, well, I'm 55 now and love the fact that I didn't have to do anything [laughs]. Seriously, we wanted the original vocal with someone that could match that sound, so it made sense to use my original vocals on the recording, along with a new performance. I think it worked.

Keith Thomas co-wrote "Baby Baby," as well as produced the original. Why did you decide to use Dave Garcia as producer, with Thomas, for the new recording?

I had not worked with Dave Garcia before. The record company [Sparrow/Capitol Christian Music Group] chose him. [Garcia] had worked with Tori in the past, so it made for a good fit.

The Heart in Motion album produced "Baby Baby," and three more Hot 100 top 10s. You also used several producers for that project. Were you intentionally shooting for a huge album? It marked a clear transition to pop.

Honestly, no. I was in the midst of family, raising kids and juggling a career, all at once, so I was not intentionally putting myself on a track to be a star or anything. But, with that said, I was certainly trying to make a great record.

Also, this was the first project [on which] I used multiple producers [Brown Bannister, Michael Omartian and Thomas]. However, I did work with all of them in the past. Heart in Motion could have easily been a flop. I was doing things differently and didn't know how it would be accepted.

Heart in Motion was your ninth album to reach No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums chart. Do you recall the reaction from the Christian community when the album became so huge on the pop side? Some formats are normally protective of their artists.

Honestly, I do not recall anything controversial at the time, but I was distracted with life and family during that period, too.

What was it like dealing with pop industry people in contrast to the Christian community?

Essentially, I believe that people are people and not specific to a format or genre. Basically, you have good people, awkward people and so on, so I see everyone as individuals. If anything, I think that I have been treated well across the board.

Your first No. 1 on the Hot 100 was the 1986 Peter Cetera duet, "The Next Time I Fall." How did that come about?

Yes, I do remember it well. Producer Michael Omartian called and asked me if I was interested in doing a vocal duet with Peter and I fell to the floor. I was like, did all the other female vocalists die in an atomic crash or what?! I loved Chicago. I saw them in concert in 1984 in Nashville and just loved it.

Funny, though, when the song was on the radio, I was touring Europe, and one day I was in the car with my husband at the time, Gary Chapman, and I said that I had yet to hear "The Next Time I Fall" on the radio and he goes, "Amy, it's No. 1." I was just bowled over.

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What are you listening to currently?

I just love listening to new music and all kinds of artists. The first time that you hear something new is an experience that can never be repeated. It's your first listen, so I want to be able to concentrate. The other day I put on the new Keith Urban album [Ripcord] and I got interrupted with phone calls. I took the album off, so I could hear it later on. That first listen is so special.

Also, I still enjoy buying CDs, especially from artists that I know. Vince and I will go shopping and pick up a bunch of albums. I still love that.

Do you listen to contemporary Christian radio?

As a matter of fact, I do listen. The other day I had a Christian station blasting through the entire house, and it's so positive; it was just filling the house with a sense of joy.

You have accomplished 16 No. 1s on Top Christian Albums, between 1980 and 2013. And you've stayed relevant. Neither is an easy task.

I don't think that it's been through any sort of intentional design. I think I have stayed relevant by staying open and continuing to live life with a sense of adventure. If there's something about your job that still makes you curious, make it an adventure; it just makes you want to keep striving.

What's next for you?

I am getting ready to head into the studio to record a Christmas album and I'll also be touring pretty extensively the latter part of this year.