- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 8, 2001

Amy Grant and Vince Gill would like to give the world a glimpse of peace this Christmas season. The husband-and-wife team bring their show, "A Christmas to Remember," to the MCI Center at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. They have invited the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, bluegrass trio Nickel Creek and contemporary Christian singer Rachael Lampa to join them.
"Christmas is a beautiful family time," Miss Grant says during a phone interview. "It's the crux of the Christian faith. It's probably the holiday that's richest in music. That's why it's so much fun to tour."
Miss Grant, who started singing Christian music in her teen years, has sold more than 22 million albums and won five Grammy Awards. She has recorded three Christmas albums, "A Christmas Album," "Home for Christmas" and "A Christmas to Remember." Mr. Gill, a country artist, has won 14 Grammy awards. He has recorded two Christmas albums, "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and "Breath of Heaven."
Despite Miss Grant's popularity in Christian circles, she created controversy when she decided to record songs for the secular market. She encountered criticism again, in 1999, when she divorced her first husband, singer-songwriter Gary Chapman.
"When you're young, you have a very innocent, safe, Sunday-school perception of God," she says. "As an adult, really having lived for 40 years, I understand the need for a savior. I see that unconditional love and forgiveness, those things are profound. Eternity seems a lot closer.
"To illustrate it when I was little, I painted a picture of God on a palette that was 24 inches by 36 inches. I had all the primary colors on my artist's palette. Now the canvas goes from east to west, and it's every color in the spectrum. That's just how you hopefully feel about everything. There's just a depth of understanding."
Miss Grant is scheduled to release a new album in 2002. Her most recent studio album was "Behind the Eyes." Although those songs reflect the struggles associated with living, Miss Grant is certain that a higher purpose exists.
"God has an eternal agenda," she says. "I have the opportunity to participate. In the big scheme of things, I don't really know what's happening. I just know that I've asked to be a part of it, but I don't have the perspective to know what part I've played, but I trust that I'm playing a part. I'm living my life like everybody, trying to follow my own conscience that I assume is directed by my faith."
Mr. Gill's most recent album is "Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye." He will start working on a new release next year. He says the holiday season brings a time to cherish his family. His new daughter, Corrina Grant Gill, was born March 12. He has one 19-year-old daughter from his previous marriage, Jenny. Miss Grant has three children from her previous marriage, Matt, 14, Millie, 12, and Sarah, 9.
"We're a blended family," Mr. Gill says. "We're all learning about each other. Amy comes from a very large family. I've been embraced by a lot of her family in a very beautiful and moving way. It's just been fun for both of us to start this life together with a lot of respect for each other and each other's family."
Corrina provides a common bond for the family, Miss Grant says.
"She is so happy," Miss Grant says. "The kids love her. In this baby, all of our blood mixes. She makes us all blood relatives."
Although Miss Grant is excited about this Christmas tour, she says the days of performing 190 concerts in 12 months are finished.
"As it stands right now, if I go out to do a show, Vince goes with me," she says. "When he goes to do a show, when I can, I go with him. The biggest challenge is that we both know what it feels like from our earlier life to be married and still spend a lot of time alone. I think we don't want to make that same mistake again."
Although the two want to place something special under the Christmas tree for their children, Mr. Gill says they are not focused on gifts.
"This year would be a great year to not be extravagant but find something for the kids to do to give back to our country, to give back to the people who are serving take this Christmas to be much more about giving than receiving," Mr. Gill says.
Miss Grant believes that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon here have caused the country to change its perspective. "As a nation, we're not as cynical as we've been in years past," she says. "You sense it at football games, at the [Country Music Association] awards. People just seem really grateful to have each other and not take anything for granted. I think that feeling will probably permeate the Christmas show, too."
Mr. Gill hopes their Christmas tour will provide an oasis for the public from everyday life. "Get away from the 24-hour ticker that goes across the TV all the time with this news and that news," he says. "Just come and take a load off for a little while."

WHAT: Amy Grant and Vince Gill
WHERE: MCI Center, Seventh and F streets NW
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow
TICKETS: $28 to $80
PHONE: 703/573-SEAT, 202/432-SEAT or 410/481-SEAT or online at www.ticketmaster.com


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