Amy Grant is here to help

Cheryl Anteau/Debra Akins/Debra Akins

If you’re out to inspire, there are few better artists to have on board than Amy Grant. The Georgia-born belter has been one of contemporary Christian music’s most popular artists since she began her pop career as a teenager. Her warm alto and effervescent spirit have pop appeal, too: In 1991, the upbeat “Baby, Baby,” written as a love letter to her then-infant daughter, topped the Hot 100, and her 2013 album “How Mercy Looks From Here” features collaborations with the likes of James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, and her husband, Vince Gill.

Later this month, Grant will headline a concert that benefits the Natick-based charity Hope for the Children of Haiti (www.hfchaiti.org), which operates an orphanage and school in Port-au-Prince as part of its mission. “Whew, what a great organization,” said Grant. “I wasn’t familiar with it before I came on board to do this show, but I love being a part of it.” The faith-based organization, which has operated for more than 20 years, is looking to raise money to improve its facilities and expand its mission. The Globe spoke to Grant while she was in Biloxi, Miss.


Q. How is tour life for you so many years into your career?

A. I love it. There’s just something beautiful about every stage, and something weird that only somebody that’s lived on the road gets — there’s no promotion. The job that I started [doing] when I was 15 is still the job I have at 58. You pack a bag, you get on a bus, and you go.

Q. How do you go about putting together setlists? You’ve been releasing music for more than four decades, and you include covers in your setlist as well.

A. I cycle through different songs. I’ve just recently added a couple of songs from the ’80s. I was at soundcheck in Key West last week, and somebody shouted out a song that I have never performed live, ever. And I went, “I don’t know that I can remember that song, much less sing it.” But when I went home, I thought, “Well, this would be a fun one to do.” Our experience with music is not just the notes coming off stage — it’s all about the feeling that you create in a space. I look at [performing] like it’s like a figure eight lying down, that it’s just this endless energy that goes from the stage, to the audience, and back to the stage. That’s what makes every night unique.


Q. Have audiences become involved in helping pick out your songs?

A. One night, somebody shouted out a song that I wrote as a teenager; it was a duet. I said, “You are messing with me. Get up here and sing it with me.” And I’m telling you, it was the most fun part of the night. This guy was sweating, and on the mic he said, “I think I’m as nervous as I was on my wedding night.” And I said, “Well, you just told us so much about yourself. The payoff is going to be much smaller in this duet.” That’s just the adventure of it. It’s beautiful.

I don’t know how I would have survived life without music. And I’m not just saying my music, but all kinds of music. There were times I was white-knuckled, going, “I’m dying here.” And then some song would come on, and I’d go, “I’m not the only one who’s ever felt this way. I’m not.” [Performing] is the same thing: I want to connect with everybody, and I’ll do it in a song.


Q. What’s it like to watch people have strong reactions to music you’ve written?

A. I can’t see it, but I feel it. I don’t have great vision, and I have a light in my eyes [while I’m performing]. We’ll get on the bus after a show and different people in the band will say, “Oh my gosh, did you see that person in the third row? They never stopped crying. Oh, did you see that person on the front row pointing at you and laughing?” And I’d think, “Oh, thank God I couldn’t see.” The tears would’ve put a lump in my throat.

Q. Have you been recording?

A. I’m back in the studio right now, but it’s more of an exploratory thing. It’s funny because I did that KonMari method — you know, the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? I did my closet. It was very liberating. But I’ll be 59 on my next birthday, and when I approach 60, I want to say to myself, especially musically, “If I plopped down into my life as a newbie right now, what would it look like?” I don’t know, because I’m so influenced by the past. But I’ve planned some things to help me understand that.


I’ve always been a little bit of a vagabond hippie at heart. I have an old Airstream that’s tiny — just big enough for one. For years, I’ve been inspired by that John Steinbeck book, “Travels with Charley.” He enjoyed so much success but felt like he needed to rediscover himself. I feel that way, too. And to think, “What would it be like just to land with the skill set I have right now — but also with the musical preferences that I have now, which are not the same as in my 20s?” I don’t even know. But I want to find out, because my audience has aged with me and just to go, “What can I be brave enough to talk about [regarding] life right now? Can I be brave or optimistic enough to find all the good things about right now?” That’s my plan.

Amy Grant: A Benefit Concert for HFC Orphanage

With Dan Russell. At Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $38 and up, 978-937-8688, www.lowellauditorium.com

Maura Johnston can be reached at maura@maura.com.