Is Amy Grant sending mixed messages?
Last year, when New York Times writer John Rockwell visited New York City’s largest record stores, he had difficulty finding any of Amy Grant’s albums. This year, with her new album on Billboard magazine’s top-200 chart, Rockwell—or anyone else—should have no trouble finding the record.
Grant, a singer who has inspired Christian listeners since her 1978 recording debut as a shy teenager, is gaining a hearing from fans of secular pop music. A & M Records distributes Grant’s latest album, Unguarded, to some 20,000 secular record outlets, while Word Records distributes it to the Christian market. “Find a Way,” the first single released from the album, found its way to Top 40 radio stations nationwide. Unguarded achieved gold status (500,000 units sold) and a #35 ranking (out of 200) on Billboard magazine’s “Top Pop Albums” list.
Late this spring, A & M released one of Grant’s earlier albums, Straight Ahead. That recording has held a spot on Billboard’s top-200 album chart for more than 17 weeks. Sources at Word Records say Grant may account for as much as 20 percent of the company’s $35 million in annual sales.
Grant’s increased popularity has attracted the attention of several television and radio programs, and major publications—including Time, Newsweek, People, and USA Today. Her fame has also given rise to questions about Christian singers who try to appeal to a secular audience.
Many Christian listeners reacted negatively to Unguarded, because the music is hard-edged rock. The album includes some songs with direct Christian lyrics and others that approach life and love from a more subtle Christian perspective. On the album’s liner notes, five of the ten songs are introduced ...1
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