Two giants: Gill and Grant
Country stars will bring spirit of Christmas to Augusta Civic Center

AUGUSTA – Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill and Amy Grant, a country music icon with more than 25 million albums sold, will bring their Christmas Concert Tour to the Augusta Civic Center Friday, Dec. 5.

Gill and Grant were married in 2000, and released “Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye” that same year. The album celebrated his new relationship and featured the hit “Feels Like Love.” The couple celebrated the birth of their daughter, Corrina Grant Gill, in 2001.

Grant’s first Christmas project, 1983’s “A Christmas Album,” has been certified platinum. Her second holiday effort, 1992’s “Home for Christmas,” has been certified triple platinum and 1999’s “A Christmas to Remember” has been certified gold by the RIAA.

In assembling “The Christmas Collection,” Grant culled her favorite songs from her three previous holiday albums and added four new recordings – two are covers of longtime favorites and two are new Christmas tunes.

“I don’t very often listen to my old stuff, but I sat down one night and I just went through each of those three earlier Christmas records and I picked songs that were favorite moments for me. There were the obvious choices like “Tennessee Christmas” and “Breath of Heaven,” but I also wanted to include some that artistically meant a lot to me,” she said in a prepared statement.

“For instance,” she noted, “I chose ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ because Phil Keaggy is playing guitar and he is one of the world’s greatest guitar players. I love knowing that he is playing on this compilation.”

There are also new covers of such perennial favorites as “Jingle Bells” and “Count Your Blessings.” Produced by longtime friend Brown Bannister, the four new tracks have that timeless flavor reminiscent of the classic Christmas records that Grant grew up savoring.

“Believe it or not, I have never seen the movie ‘White Christmas,'” Grant said of the movie that spawned “Count Your Blessings.” “But I really love the thought, ‘count your blessings.’ I love what it says in the song and I think it’s true. … It’s a great mantra, especially at Christmas time.”

Grant wrote one of the new songs, “I Need a Silent Night” with Chris Eaton, who co-penned “Breath of Heaven” with her. “Chris and I had written songs for each of my previous Christmas albums, so I couldn’t imagine not having him on this new collection. As our conversation for a new song began, he started talking about all the excitement around shopping. He loves to shop and loves the buzz and decorations associated with it. However, as his energy level starting going up, up, up while talking about it, my stomach was tightening and I was sweating because the experience is totally different when you’re the mother of young kids … so we kept talking and the idea of ‘I Need A Silent Night’ came about.”

“I love the message of the song. Christmas can be a time for such high energy, busyness and chaos, but at the end of the day what I really need is a silent night to reflect on the real meaning of the season.”

Grant and Gill wrote a romantic holiday song for “The Christmas Collection” over a cup of coffee one morning. “I don’t think anybody really thinks about Christmas Eve as being the most romantic time, especially if you have children because you are exhausted,” said Grant. “But if you could have a time like this, what would it be like? We tried to write a song that would bring that to life.”

Gill recorded his first Christmas album, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” in 1993 before releasing “When Love Finds You” in 1994. This album also sold more than 4 million copies and featured six hits, including the title cut, “What the Cowgirls Do.”

On Gill’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kyle Young of the Country Music Foundation said: “Vince Gill is quite simply a living prism refracting all that is good in country music. He uses the crystal planes of his songwriting, his playing, and his singing to give us a musical rainbow that embraces all men and spans all seasons.”

Gill has earned 18 Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994. He is tied with George Strait for having won the most CMA Male Vocalist Awards (five), and is currently second only to Brooks and Dunn for accumulating the most CMA Awards in history.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert may be purchased by calling the civic center box office at 626-2400 or Ticketmaster at 775-3331.

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