Living in Nashville, I’ve developed a new perspective on celebrity. Although it’s not New York or LA, there’s still a greater-than-average chance you’ll eventually run into someone whose name graces a CD, book cover, movie poster, or all three. Because it’s not New York or LA, there’s less pretense.
Celeb-sighting opportunities abound. If you’re into Christian music, you can visit several of the larger churches like Fellowship Bible (which features Christy Nockels of Watermark and the Passion conferences as an “artist in residence” and regular worship leader) or New River Fellowship (founded by Michael W. Smith). If you prefer country, swing by my Waffle House where Faith Hill is rumored to hang out.
I’ve seen none of these people, and therefore have had no opportunity to practice the careful nonchalance that native Nashvillians adopt when in the presence of celebrities. I have been passed on the highway by Tim McGraw (his SUV distinguishable because of the satellite TV system inside) and Ashley Judd. Choir rehearsals have included Steve Green and Point of Grace. But none of these little experiences compared to sitting in the third row of Amy Grant’s book reading on Friday.
Ms. Grant does not have the best singing voice of her generation, but she has a dry wit, a huge smile, and a gracious spirit. (She’s also the most beautiful 46 year-old woman I’ve ever seen up close. Do I sound star-struck? No, that’s jealousy you hear.)
The evening, designed to promote her new book Mosaic, also included several songs (some with husband Vince Gill, wearing a sweatshirt and jeans and looking like he just woke up) and a Q&A.
The most amazing moment came when a woman near the front asked, “Have you ever called a fan in response to a letter?”
“Only once,” Amy replied. “I received a letter from a young woman whose boyfriend beat her. All I had was the return address, but I had to track this girl down. There was no one speaking into this girl’s life and I just felt this desperate need to get in touch with her.”
The girl smiled. “That was me,” she said. The crowd gasped.
“No!…..Really?” Amy said.
“Really,” she said. “Thank you for calling me.”
“You’re not still with that guy, are you?” Amy said.
The girl said no and the audience chuckled and clapped.
It was only one hour, and (almost) anyone can be charming and unpretentious for an hour. But Amy Grant seems like the real deal; even in this town, that’s refreshing.