At first glance, Amy Grant would not seem to be an obvious candidate for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, since there might be many people who have a distaste of and a lack of knowledge about the importance of Christian music as an important clement of Rock & Roll, and since there are very few Christian artists of any kind who have even been considered as serious Rock & Roll musicians . Nevertheless, when one looks at Amy Grant as a trailblazer in helping to provide legitimacy and credibility for Christian musicians and bands within the mainstream pop music world, Amy Grant’s candidacy becomes obviously worthwhile, to the point where it is a wonder that her candidacy has not received more support from fans. In discussing her candidacy it will be necessary to discuss some of the special difficulties with the issue of religious culture, issues which are not unique to Christian music, it should be noted . Amy Grant’s success as a pop musician has not been often appreciated, nor has her foundational role in serving as a trailblazer for mainstream success for Christian artists, both of which grant her a strong case for induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Amy Grant’s Contribution
Amy Grant’s contribution to Rock & Roll rests on two grounds. First, she was a foundational figure and a trailblazer in establishing the legitimacy of Christian music in the pop mainstream. She became the first Christian artist to have a gold album, the first Christian artist to have a platinum album, and the first Christian artist to have a non-Christmas top-40 hit with “Find A Way,” which was also a top 10 Adult Contemporary Hit (a chart where Amy Grant has had a great deal of success throughout her career) . Any time an artist can create commercial viability for an entire genre of music (in this case, Contemporary Christian music, a genre she helped to found through her blending of popular sensibilities with a Christian worldview), that artist is worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, whatever one may feel about that type of music. While rap artists and progressive rock artists may feel underrepresented, Christian music represents a true frontier of rock & roll music that has received zero inductions, and is worthy of at least some. For making the world safe for bands like Switchfoot, dc Talk, Jars of Clay, and Needtobreathe, all of which have obtained some crossover success, Amy Grant deserves a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The second ground that Amy Grant’s Rock & Roll induction rests on is the success of her own body of work. Amy Grant has had sixteen #1s on the Christian music chart, as well as 3 #1s on the Adult Contemporary Chart (along with 8 additional top 10s and 12 further top 40 hits on that chart) and 2 #1s on the Billboard Hot 100 (as well as 3 additional top 10’s and 5 further top 10 hits). In terms of albums, Amy Grant has had 3 multi-platinum albums, 4 additional platinum albums, and six further gold albums), for a total of more than 30 million albums sold around the world, making her among the most successful artists in terms of album sales, especially within the Gospel community . Even apart from her foundational role in establishing a template for mainstream success as a Christian artists, Amy Grant’s career success in the Gospel and Adult Contemporary (as well as the pop) charts would make for a compelling case for induction. With that massive influence, her case ought to be unassailable.
Why Amy Grant Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Before Amy Grant, no Christian artist had a non-Christmas top 40 hit (much less a #1 hit), or a single gold or platinum album. Amy Grant alone has had 10 top 40 hits on the Billboard charts (including 2 #1 hits) and 13 gold albums (7 of which went at least platinum and 3 of them that went multi-platinum). From scratch she created a way for an artist to achieve success as a Christian artist and then cross over to the mainstream without sacrificing her religious worldview. She even had the bravery and sense to refilm a music video for one of her hits when the editing of the song’s original video tried to paint her as a bisexual . Amy Grant’s songs remain important, not only in her own versions (“El Shaddai,” “Father’s Eyes,” “The Next Time I Fall,” “Baby Baby,” “That’s What Love Is Far,” “I Will Remember You,” “Good For Me,” “Lucky One,” and “House Of Love,” to name a few) but also in the versions that she has brought to the mainstream that others have also sung (including “Oh How The Years Go By,” later sung in a popular version by Vanessa Williams). For her cultural influence and for the enduring popularity of her music, Amy Grant is a no-brainer for Rock & Roll recognition.
Why Amy Grant Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
It seems quite likely that Amy Grant suffers a great deal because of the fact that she is such a notable Christian artist. While her divorce and remarriage are probably not a big problem as far as the Rock & Roll community is concerned, given the general low standard of personal behavior among popular artists, the fact that Amy Grant remained true to her beliefs and achieved popular success, and made it possible for other Christian artists to become popular without having to compromise their beliefs, is probably not greatly appreciated by the cultural elites that determine rock & roll legitimacy in places like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That said, her influence has been undeniable, even if the part of the popular music scene where she comes from has been appealing neither to cultural elites (who disdain Christianity and its cultural influence) nor to fundamentalist Christians who found Amy Grant to be too “sexy” and too interested in popular acclaim for their tastes .
Verdict: Adding Amy Grant to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would make a strong commitment to demonstrate the fact that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame credits artists for legitimacy no matter what background they have. I doubt the R&RHOF has the bravery and the integrity to make that kind of commitment, but it would be an excellent move on their part, and one that might cause Christian artists as a whole to be better recognized for their cultural influence within the popular music scene, which can only be a good thing at this stage.