Two of the biggest names in Contemporary Christian music — Amy
Grant and Michael W. Smith — joined forces this fall on the “2
Friends Tour.”

Saturday’s concert in Merrillville is one of the final stops on
their three-month trek together. It’s also the first time Grant has
performed at Star Plaza Theatre.

It will be her first time back in Northwest Indiana since 2002,
when she gave a 30–minute performance at Family Christian Center in
Munster while touring in support of her gospel album “Legacy.”

Between Grant and Smith, there are seven Grammy Award wins, 65
Dove Award wins, a couple of Emmys, and a gazillion records sold.
To call this anything short of a dream package for fans of this
style of music is an understatement.

Smith — with 29 No. 1 hits on the Contemporary Christian chart
— is one of the most influential and best–selling artists of the
genre.

Grant who released her first album in 1977, has become the
best–selling Contemporary Christian artist in history to date.

Grant and Smith were friends long before the fame, awards and
accolades came to them. In 1982, Smith was hired as keyboardist and
back–up singer for Grant on her “Age To Age” tour. With her
support, he ventured into solo recording in 1983 after signing with
Reunion Records, which was started by Grant’s then brother–in–law.
Smith, remaining a member of her group, often playing his music as
her opening act, until 1984 when after a Grammy nomination and and
hit single (“Friends”) launched his solo career and made him a
headline artist.

Grant and Smith have teamed up together to do live shows
sporadically over the years.

Smith cites the current “2 Friends Tour” as a happy reunion for
both of them. Logistically, Grant opens the show with Smith joining
her for some songs; then he takes the stage during the second half,
and Grant returns the favor by joining him for a couple of
tunes.

“It’s a streamlined little package,” said Grant of the
production which features a total of 13 musicians, who all travel
together by bus.

“From a work stand point, I’ve had the amazing opportunity that
anything I’ve ever wanted to try, for some reason, the door has
opened. I feel very content when it comes to (my) work,” said
Grant, whose most recent album is 2010’s “Somewhere Down The
Road.”

That album — her first new studio recording in six years during
a period that included a live concert disc and a “Greatest Hits”
collection — landed Grant a 2010 Grammy nomination for the single
“Better Than A Hallelujah.”

“The honesty of it, the vulnerability of the lyrics, the
beautiful melody, and that the song found me right where I was in
my own journey was incredibly powerful,” she said of how the song
resonated with her while dealing with the recent death of her dear
friend, musician Ruth McGinnis. “It’s just so poignant.”

It’s one of the new tunes fans can expect to hear Saturday.

Grant said she has been busy writing songs for a new album
targeted for 2012.