An Evening with Amy Helps the Cause
By Andy Argyrakis, senior editor, gmclife.com
How much would you pay to see a major artist who usually plays in large venues in an intimate setting that promises to be no more than 300 seats? What if you got to meet that entertainer before the show and had a chance to ask questions (possibly even make a request) during the set? Throw in an art gallery exhibit, refreshments, and most importantly, a charitable cause (Compassion International’s Leadership Development Program), and that’s exactly what Amy Grant fans are up for this fall as the legendary singer/songwriter embarks on the “Pieces of Our Lives” tour.
“The night starts off with the reception and then the concert portion of the evening will be two parts,” Grant unveils, phoning in from home in Nashville. “Two or three songs will have multimedia treatments and I’ll tailor some songs to fit the mood, like ‘Children of the World’ and ‘Third World Woman,’ and then I’ll invite one of the Leadership Development students from Compassion to tell their story. For the second half, we want people to share their stories [about their personal outreach efforts] or they can ask a question, followed by more music with a lot of spontaneity. Engaging one another in conversation broadens our minds and that’s better than taking a nap!”
Though Grant’s worked with Compassion for more than 20 years and her family currently sponsors 11 children, her latest partnership seeks to not only meet the basic needs of the impoverished, but to equip them with professional training in a field of their choosing. More than just a basic program, young people who show accelerated learning skills will have the chance to attend college and graduate.
“I know of so many people’s lives who were forever changed because they were sponsored through the Leadership Development Program,” shares Grant, “like a young man born in India whose parents didn’t know how to read, but he scored the second highest in the entire country on a test that eventually led to medical school. And I know of another girl who started her life picking through the dump to find food, and now all these years later, she’s a cardiologist! I believe if we could connect the dots between people with need, that everything we have is here.”
As for the ticket prices, the preferred seating, meet and greet and exclusive gift book package run at $250, while the concert-only entrance fee stands at $150. Though it’s higher than the average Christian concert, those ranges are actually cheaper than top tier tickets on recent Madonna and many other mainstream tours, while this particular instance finds the proceeds going directly to Compassion’s latest initiative. Adds Grant: “It’s a bigger commitment than $32 a month, but let’s develop an evening where we try to connect the dots between people who have expendable income with stories of extraordinary children.”
Fans who engage in the once-in-a-lifetime evening are sure to hear selections from Grant’s newest disc Somewhere Down the Road, which marks her return to a traditional studio recording after seven years of specialty projects. The storytelling project focuses on songs that share her life’s recent journeys, including her work with Compassion, finding the strength to encourage ailing loved ones, and taking a breather from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
“I think it’s gotten a really good reception, though I feel like music is something everyone discovers on their own,” Grant ponders. “I think there’s more publicity on a record when it first comes out, but even after it’s out for a long time, if it’s worth its salt, I think people can still discover it. I never ask what a record sells, because to me that’s not what matters – just that one person at a time enjoys it.”
For those hoping to hear a follow-up right away, the troubadour exercises caution when talking about her next project, simply because her plate is full through the end of 2010 with the “Pieces of Our Lives” tour, and the annual Christmas trek with country star hubby Vince Gill. “My focus really is just on live shows and I’m pretty much singing every week until the end of the year,” she reasons. “But when the new year rolls back around, I’ll be heading back into the studio.”
For additional details and tour dates, visit www.piecesofourlives.com.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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