<p>Singer Amy Grant performs during the Creation Christian music festival near Mount Union, Pennsylvania, June 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>

Amy Grant releases first new songs since 2003

Music News

Deborah Evans Price

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Most artists signed to a catalog deal are content to let the label repackage their classic songs, toss in a couple of new tracks and call it a day. But Amy Grant has always been a creative overachiever.

So much so that her Tuesday (March 30) release, “Somewhere Down the Road” (Sparrow/EMI Christian Music Group), evolved from a catalog project into the singer-songwriter’s first album of new music since 2003.

“The project just morphed as we went along,” Grant says of the new album, which now features six new songs, two previously unreleased tracks, a newly recorded version of her 1982 cut “Arms of Love” and three recordings from the Christian/pop artist’s catalog. “We used the original recordings of ‘Somewhere Down the Road,’ ‘Every Road’ and ‘Imagine’ to set the tone for the record. Everything else just nestles in around those songs and, hopefully, makes a project that feels like a journey.”

Grant’s musical journey began as a teenager when she became the leading face of the burgeoning contemporary Christian music movement of the late ‘70s. In the ‘80s, Grant became the first Christian artist to cross over to mainstream pop success. Her 1991 album “Heart in Motion” has been certified five-times-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and spawned “Baby Baby,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100.

After 30 years with Word Records, she segued to EMI Christian Music Group (EMI CMG) in 2007, taking her considerable catalog with her. With the exception of an EP last spring that featured two new songs, Grant hasn’t released an album of new music since 2003’s “Simple Things.” Her last studio album, 2005’s “Rock of Ages: Hymns & Faith,” covered classic hymns.

Most of “Somewhere Down the Road” was recorded at the new studio that Grant and her husband, country artist Vince Gill, recently built at their Nashville home. Among the album’s new tunes is the ballad “Unafraid,” which examines a woman’s life in different stages from lover to mother to child of an aging parent. “Overnight” is a duet with Grant’s 17-year-old daughter, Sarah. “It talks about if things happened overnight, you wouldn’t appreciate the process,” says Grant, who used one of her paintings as cover art for the CD. The set’s lead single, “Better Than a Hallelujah,” is No. 24 on the Christian Songs chart.

During the album’s release week, Grant will visit radio and host retail in-stores in Atlanta, Dallas and Tampa, Florida. She’ll then hit New York to appear on “CBS This Morning,” “Fox & Friends,” CNN, ABC’s “Nightline” and other media outlets.

All signs point to a strong debut for the album. A week before its release, the label ran out of CDs, EMI CMG director of catalog development Bryan Ward says. “We’re having to make some as fast as possible because the orders quadrupled,” he adds. “That’s a great sign.”