IF YOU GO:
What: “2 Friends Tour”
featuring Amy Grant and
Michael W. Smith
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Tickets: $10 to $75; call 216-241-6000 or 866-546-1353, or go to PlayhouseSquare.org
By John Benson
Amy Grant admits she’s a bit behind on music. So you’ll have to forgive the veteran Christian contemporary-music artist if she’s just discovering alternative metal act Flyleaf.
“First off, [Flyleaf frontwoman] Lacey Mosley is an incredible singer, and it makes me think how we are just compelled to make different kinds of music in different times of life,” said Grant, calling from her tour bus somewhere in Florida. “Right now, I’m looking at a three-hour show, and I’m glad my material is a lot more laid back. She’s incredibly talented. It’s just fun to hear new music; that’s the beauty of it. Everyone makes music that’s familiar to them, and I make music that’s familiar to my DNA, but it’s certainly not the only thing I want to hear.”
Perhaps for her next album Grant should get Mosley into the studio for a duet?
“I’d have to ramp up quite a bit,” Grant said, laughing.
Ramping up for a walk down memory lane is what Grant and her longtime recording and touring partner Michael W. Smith are doing this spring with the “2 Friends Tour,” which comes to Cleveland on Friday at the Palace Theatre. While the former is touring her latest effort, “Somewhere Down the Road,” and the latter is supporting his “Wonder,” the outing marks the first time the two superstars, who have won a combined nine Grammy Awards and sold more than 47 million albums, have toured together (sans a few small holiday jaunts) in more than two decades.
The idea of the “2 Friends Tour” came last summer when the pair played a few shows. Instantly, Grant and Smith knew something special was taking place.
“When we showed up, we went, ‘Wow, we haven’t done this in ages,’” said Grant, who in 1988 and 1989 played 150 cities with Smith. “Once sound check started, I’m looking at Michael going, ‘Oh my God, this is bringing back so many memories.’ We had such a great evening. That night after the show, we said, ‘We’ve got to do this again.’ We pulled out calendars and started marking time in 2011 when we thought it would be possible. And here we are. These songs are peeling back the years and reminding audiences of an earlier version of themselves, which is always fun.”
Grant said the tour includes two distinct sets with each joining the other for a few duets. Invariably, it’ll be special for fans as they get to watch two driving forces responsible for making the genre what it is today. Speaking of which, how does Grant see herself fitting into the contemporary-music scene?
“I have no idea; it’s a great big world out there,” Grant said. “I feel like any of us who have done music for a long, long time, we don’t feel identified by any one particular genre, especially with all of the abilities for networking now. There’s just everything out there, and I think the creation of music and the dispersion of music has a jet engine attached to it now that’s unlike any time before. So I’d say I’m happily just somewhere in the fray.”