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Amy Grant, 'Reina del pop cristiano', agasajada en los honores del Kennedy Center

Por Adelle Banks
Kennedy Center honors amy grant
Contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant, center, reacts as she is recognized by President Joe Biden during the Kennedy Center honorees reception at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. The 2022 Kennedy Center Honorees include from left, George Clooney, Amy Grant, Bono, Gladys Knight, and The Edge. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Kennedy Center Honors, on its 45th occasion, recognized singer and songwriter Amy Grant, marking the first time the top cultural distinction was given to a contemporary Christian musician.

“There are stories of tenacity, stories of faith, stories of unfettered creativity and stories of endurance,” said actress and 2002 honoree Chita Rivera at the Sunday event that highlighted the “queen of Christian pop” along with actor George Clooney, singer Gladys Knight, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León and the rock band U2.

“Tonight, we broaden that spectrum to include for the first time ever a contemporary Christian music artist, Amy Grant,” she said. “In her amazing 40-plus years, Amy has logged success after success without ever compromising her faith or her individuality.”

In a brief red-carpet interview just before the black-tie event, Grant said she hoped to live up to the honor in representing the genre.

“Well, I’m a little bit of a rascal; I hope I do them proud,” she said, laughing.

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kennedy center honors
President Joe Biden, right, and first lady Jill Biden are recognized at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, Sunday, Dec. 4 2022, in Washington. (Photo by Tracey Salazar)

Her arrival at the Kennedy Center came less than five months after a bike accident and hospital stay — neither of which the musician can remember — that forced her to postpone some concert dates.

Grant, who described herself as “doing well,” said she appreciated being back on tour and at the Kennedy Center, even if it felt a little overwhelming after her extended time of rest.

“I felt like I was feeling really confident on my two-mile-an-hour treadmill and then I merged onto Interstate traffic,” she said. “Just did my first show last week. And this has been such a beautiful way to reengage.”

Grant, 61, has six Grammys and more than 20 Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association. The Gospel Music Hall of Fame honoree signed her first record deal at age 17.

She became the first contemporary Christian musician to have a No. 1 hit on the pop charts with “Next Time I Fall,” a 1986 duet with Peter Cetera of the band Chicago. Five years later, her fame spread with “Baby, Baby,” a hit from her 1991 platinum album “Heart in Motion.”

GMA President and Executive Director Jackie Patillo, who described Grant as “a Christian music sweetheart,” said it’s a “big deal” that the Kennedy Center has taken this step to honor an artist who crossed over to mainstream pop and served as an ambassador of the Christian music subgenre.

“I think that Amy Grant lives a very holistic life in that her faith is just a part of everything that she does, and so whether her music is being acknowledged or played on pop radio or CCM (stations), she’s, still, consistently Amy Grant,” said Patillo.

“The way God has used her has stretched the industry and the church.”

Grant, who, like other honorees, sat in an Opera House balcony not far from President Biden, Vice President Harris and their spouses, drank in the praise without having to take the stage to speak or perform.

In the audience of more than 1,900 were actresses Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Roberts, politicians Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Dallas megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes and Grant’s first record producer Brown Bannister.

Kennedy Center Board Chair David Rubenstein acknowledged the significance of the recognition of contemporary Christian music.

“We felt that it was long overdue,” he told media. “There was only one person who could really fulfill that requirement, and that was Amy.”

Gospel artist CeCe Winans echoed Rubenstein’s comment when she appeared with her brother BeBe on the red carpet shortly before the event began but started with an exuberant “Woo!”

“We’re so excited,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming. But she’s a perfect person to open up that door. And so we’re excited about that.”

Added her brother: “Amen.”

kennedy center honors
Members of the Howard Gospel Choir at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Washington. (RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks)

Later on stage, the Winans duo joined to fete Grant in a medley featuring her songs, “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” and “El Shaddai,” as CCM artist Michael W. Smith played the piano and the Howard Gospel Choir added their voices.

When the show opened with the national anthem, singer Tricia Yearwood joined the choir, directed by Kirk Franklin, for an upbeat version of the patriotic tune. The background included a moonlit sky, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol and a waving American flag.

Prior to the event, Smith said he was thrilled to see his longtime friend honored for her role in music, including the subgenre she helped him enter.

“I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you if it hadn’t been for Amy,” he said as he appeared at the event before continuing their joint Christmas tour this week. “I was her opening act in 1982.”

Others in and beyond the music industry spoke of Grant’s influence on and off the stage.

Sheryl Crow, who sang Grant’s “Baby, Baby” in her honor, spoke of how Grant had inspired her as a musician, mother and friend.

“Amy Grant’s music had a profound effect on me as a young college student,” said Crow. “Her music was a staple with her deeply soulful voice and her uplifting message of hope and faith,” said Crow. “Amy also taught me that it was possible to be funny, irreverent and Christian all at the same time.”

Kennedy Center honors Amy Grant
Kennedy Center Honoree Amy Grant and husband Vince Gill at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Washington. (Photo by Scott Suchman)

The segment of the program honoring Grant included video clips of her four children speaking of times when they accompanied her on tour when they were young, inspired a song — she wrote “Baby, Baby” about daughter Millie — or appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” as was the case with daughter Sarah when she was a baby.

A glitch with a guitar caused an awkward pause as country musicians The Highwomen prepared to sing “Somewhere Down the Road” for Grant and the audience.

“We love you Amy,” someone shouted before the program moved ahead after a “technical difficulties” announcement.

Veteran broadcaster Katie Couric, a close friend of Grant’s, added to the chorus of accolades, speaking about lessons Grant had heeded.

“Amy, you once shared the four words your sweet mom said to you, words you’ve never forgotten: Sing something that matters,” Couric said. “Well, you’ve done it and you’re still doing it.”

A two-hour presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors, which lasted more than three hours, will air on CBS at 8 p.m. EST/PST on Dec. 28.

Adelle Banks es editora de producción y corresponsal nacional de Religion News Service.



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12 pensamientos sobre “Amy Grant, ‘Queen of Christian Pop,’ Feted at Kennedy Center Honors”

    1. selección de ken


      I know years ago Amy Grant was getting a lot of Hate from Christians (backslider, apostate, tare, never a REAL Christian) when she dared to step out of the Christianese bubble and go mainstream.

      Are you joining that chorus?

    2. Carmen Tartaglia

      I don’t believe anyone hates Amy Grant or any person who is a homosexual. I think it has more to do with how far our society and the world has fallen away from God. This is the very reason why every fasit of the world and society is falling apart. We see it everywhere. Bible prophecy about the very last days are upon us and God has send the disillusion so people believe lies more than the truth, because they don’t want the truth.

  1. This whole celebration warms my heart. A time to put aside politics and judgment to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of artists who have impacted entire genres and generations.

  2. I think it is unbelievable that she would receive this. When she left the Christian music scene she stated it was so she could earn more money. What kind of Christian is that?

    1. Chris –
      The Kennedy Center honors are about acknowledging those who have had significant impact on the arts. Like her or not – and Christians seem to LOVE hating Amy Grant – she took Christian music mainstream in a way that no other artist had really done beforehand. I remember hearing “El Shaddai” on pop radio and seeing her debut album in the “pop” session of record stores, when it would usually be relegated to Christian-only (at the small corner in the back). Because of Amy Grant, the music industry realized that this genre can be both powerful and profitable, and it invested more in the development and distribution of Christian artists.
      It’s unbelievable Christians get so upset about that.
      And while Amy Grant still releases Christian albums (“When We Fall Apart” came out last year), I also appreciate that even when she does pop songs, they are clean, family friendly, and about universal concepts like love and raising a family. The only difference is no direct reference to God.
      Ya’ll act like Amy abandoned the genre to become the next Beyonce.

    2. Chris, do you think it’s ever okay for someone to leave a job with a church, Christian organization or ministry of any kind for better working conditions and/or pay?

      Do you have any thoughts about people who choose to never enter ministry, but instead pursue a career in the secular world because of better pay or conditions?

    3. Thankfully, I have very little exposure to Amy Grant, or her ilk.

      I have been going through the book of Luke, recently and a lot of material in Luke applies to her, and I may say, many pastors who are peddlers of the Word!

      Luke 6
      24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.
      25“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.
      “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
      26“Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.—NET

      1. You say you have little exposure to Amy, but you sure do have a lot of judgment and condescension. Why specifically does this apply to Amy? Because she’s a successful singer?

  3. Shouldn’t we be talking about when Christian radio, years ago, pulled ALL of her music—and has never reinstated it—when she committed adultery with Vince Gill?

    1. Kimberly – not sure where you are located, but I am in Chicago and hear Amy’s music regularly on Christian radio. Same for when I was in Minneapolis 10 years ago – Christian radio introduced me to her son “Better than a Hallelujah”, which is still a favorite of mine (I even use it as part of the cooldown music in my fitness classes and get regular compliments on it from even non-believers).
      Or is this post to bring up Amy’s past? We as Christians need to learn to let things go, especially when remorse and repentance is demonstrated. Amy has tearfully discussed this and has remained faithfully married ever since. Why are we are hardest on our own?

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