Christian- and pop-music giant Amy Grant loves Oklahoma. It’s home to one of the people she loves the most in this world.
No, not hubby Vince Gill. … His mother, Jerene.
She definitely loves her husband, but she especially loves his mom.
In a recent telephone interview from the road, Grant shared her love for Gill’s old stomping ground, including his mother Jerene’s two-story, central Oklahoma home that Gill grew up in, located right across the street from his elementary school.
“The greatest compliment she ever gave me was that I was hearty ‘farm girl stock,’ ” Grant said.
“She grew up as the only girl, no brothers, on a farm. She’s tough, practical, opinionated, intelligent, beautiful and vibrant,” she said. “So to get that compliment from her is, just, wow.
“Be like her? No way. She beat me at that a long time ago,” she added, a smile in her voice. “I’m so far behind the eight ball. She’s got me beat, hands down.”
Actually, Grant is a lot like Gill’s mother. She works. A lot. Especially these days.
And she loves to laugh.
Last year, Grant released her first album in seven years, “Somewhere Down the Road.” It was a release she financed, now that she’s free from more than 30 years of record label management. It included old, new and previously unreleased material, she said.
Some of it will be performed Saturday at the Mabee Center when the Christian-music icon joins another, Michael W. Smith, for their “Two Friends Tour” stop, she said.
Grant’s set will open the tour stop, though the pair will perform together throughout the night, she said. They’ll be bringing out some popular tunes from the Grant vault, including “Find a Way,” written with Smith. That was “one of the first songs of mine that got any real airplay,” she said.
It became her fifth No. 1 Christian music single in 1985, and her first crossover hit in video play, top 40 and adult contemporary genres. Other tunes together will include “Stay for Awhile,” as well as “Sing Praise to the Lord” and “Emmanuel.”
“We haven’t done these together in decades,” she admitted. “I’m really excited about this. I hope longtime fans will be, too.”
Since the early ’80s, she’s easily done at least 500 shows with friend and singer Michael W. Smith. Their last tour, they did more than 150 shows together.
They’re both older these days with family and kids, but the early days were full of childish fun, she said. Heck, they were practically kids themselves, she said.
“We’d all be crammed on a tour bus like a bunch of sardines,” she said. “Someone would always end up at the store, buying a bunch of water pistols, water guns. Fights would break out in our hotel rooms. We had all kinds of harmless fun,” she said.
She also loves to sightsee while on tour, “even if all I’m doing is just from the jumpseat in the front of a bus,” she said.
“I never imagined I’d still be doing this at age 50,” she said. “Touring again, making music. Sightseeing. But then again, I never thought to look that far ahead.”
Right now, she’s enjoying every moment she’s in.
“This fall has been crazy,” she said of her schedule with husband Gill. Each has been busy doing publicity and touring. Grant did her interview with the Tulsa World while recovering from a bout of strep throat. She performed the night before.
“I’m actually on the mend,” she said, voice gravelly.
Even with all this going on, Grant and Gill make time for each other. Sometimes they’re closer than they realize.
“Last night, we ended up in the same grocery store parking lot in Nashville, our tour buses side by side,” Grant said.
When not on the road, the pair also make their home in the city, too.
But not last night.
“He called me and was like, ‘When do you think we can see each other?’ So I’m like, ‘Maybe we can stop at a convenience store or something?’ … Yeah, that’s, you know, really romantic,” she said, then laughed.
She says that life isn’t always this way, though. In fact, it usually isn’t.
“Things come in waves.”
After she and Smith finish this tour, she’ll join her husband for a 12-stop December tour celebrating the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
The pair haven’t scheduled an Oklahoma show, but she said she’s really hoping to make it into the Sooner State again to visit Gill’s family again.
Then, it’s back into the studio in January, for her first full album of all-new songs in more than seven years, she said. Hopefully it’ll be out “by this time next year, if not sooner.”
Before that, maybe she’ll be up for some leg-wrestling with her mother-in-law. She’s hopeful.
“I don’t know, this had to be about 10 years ago,” Grant said. “Vince’s mother was leg wrestling someone, who was it? Oh! It was my son. The match ended in a draw, I think. She said, ‘If I were only 10 years younger, I woulda taken him!’ She was 70,” she said, and giggled.
Then there was the other time, not too long ago, when Jerene Gill and Grant were up early one morning and headed to a yoga class together – at the local senior center.
“I’d never done yoga before, and a 95-year-old lady there, Rose, was really challenging me. It was great. … His mom’s taught me a few things, that’s for sure.”
Michael W. Smith Amy Grant “Two Friends Tour”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mabee Center, 7777 S. Lewis Ave.
Tickets: All ages. Tickets start at $25, available at tulsaworld.com/mabee, at the Hilton Box Office at the Mabee Center and by calling 918-495-6000.
Original Print Headline: Okie mom’s biggest fan is daughter-in-law Amy Grant
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346