Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Amy Grant kicks off Season Two with an in-depth conversation about how she’s sustained her more than 40-year career. For her, it’s all about connection — with herself and with her community. She also talks about falling in love with the creative process, the importance of making art even if no one sees it, and her journey to recover her voice after she thought she’d lost everything.
Hey there. I’m Tricia Rose Burt, and I want to ask you a question. What creative work are you called to do but are too afraid to try? Are you in IT but dream of doing stand up? A PR exec who longs to write a screenplay? Did you change your priorities and now you want to leave your fully funded PhD/MD program and go to New Mexico and paint? Or maybe you’re like I was in my early career, trapped in a lucrative but soul crushing corporate job when what I really wanted to do was tell stories on stage. In this podcast, we’ll hear from artists who took unexpected leaps and found the courage to answer their creative call so we can inspire you to answer yours. This is no time to be timid.
Welcome to the show. We’re excited to be back for a second season. And thanks to all of you who reached out and told us how Season One inspired you to step into your creativity. Keep the reports coming in. We love to hear how you’re doing.
In our first season, we focused on the principals of the No Time to Be Timid Manifesto, a framework that helps you step into and lead a more creative life. If you don’t have a copy of the manifesto, please go to my website, triciaroseburt.com and download one. And in the second season, we’re going to focus on the traits required to sustain that creative life like endurance, resilience and curiosity.
I asked my first guest, Amy Grant, the Grammy Award-winning singer songwriter, what she felt was the most important trait in sustaining her more than 40-year music career. Without skipping a beat, she said connection — connection with yourself and connection with other people. Now, you may know Amy as an icon of contemporary Christian music. Or for her wildly successful transition to pop. Maybe you’ve seen her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or just last year saw her receive her Kennedy Center Honor alongside George Clooney, Gladys Knight, U2 and composer Tania Leone.
I know Amy because we went to college together. We both went to Vanderbilt University and while we stayed connected for several years after graduating, life took us in different directions. Then back in 2012, I’m in Nashville for my 30th Vanderbilt reunion, doing a reading of my one woman show, How to Draw a Nekkid Man. The audience is filled with college friends, including Amy, who I hadn’t seen in at least 15 years. Amy had no idea I was now a performing artist, but earlier that afternoon she’d bumped into our classmate, Julie, at the alterations store, who invited her to come along to the show. During the question and answer session, I thanked all my Vanderbilt friends who hosted my performance in their living rooms while the show was in development. And after the reading, Amy comes up to me and she says, “Hey, Tricia, do you still perform in people’s living rooms?” And I said, “Not much, but if it makes sense I will.” And she said, “Will you come perform in my living room?” And I said, “Okay.” And she said, “Would you come perform my living room in two weeks?” And I said, “Okay.” Turns out ,she and her husband, Vince Gill, had auctioned off three days in Nashville at a charity event, and six generous ladies bought the trip. When Amy saw my show, she had Saturday and Monday Night entertainment figured out, but Sunday was still unknown. So I stepped in and became part of their entertainment package. Creativity reconnected Amy and me and we’ve been cheering each other on in our creative efforts ever since. She’s one of the most generous artists and people I know, and I’m just thrilled to have her on the show.
Hey, Amy, welcome to the show.
Amy: Thank you so much. This is fun.
Tricia: Okay. So this season, we’re going to be talking about the stamina it takes and the endurance it takes to actually sustain a creative career. And since you have been performing and writing songs for over 40 years, you know something about the stamina it takes to keep it going. We all know about your successes. You know, those have been well-documented, but you’ve been in the game long enough that there has to have been a couple of no’s along the way. And I know when I worked really hard on a memoir that didn’t get picked up, I called you up and I said, you know, this didn’t get picked up. And you said, Tricia, in our house, a no is as good as a yes. And so I want you to talk a little bit about how you navigate no’s. If there’s a particular no that you had to navigate that was harder than another one, because I think a lot of artists, whether they’ve been doing it for a long time or they’re just starting out, no’s can be a big obstacle. And so how do you get around those?
Amy: Well, before anything specific comes to mind, I did not make up that phrase. a no’s as good as a yes. But I will tell you, my friend Beverly Mansfield did. She’s very practical and when she first said it to me, probably in the early nineties, a no is as good as a yes — because it simply redirects — it felt empowering. And it completely removed the rejection component and that’s important. In creativity, things that are important about creativity is one to have an encouraging environment and also to not have an end game.
Tricia: What do you mean by that?
Amy: Well, if you say the end result of this is going to look like xyz on the big stage; xyz with sales; xyz…just when you say with creativity, it’s going to end up looking like this, then the only result is that it either looked like that or it didn’t. It’s a pass or fail. And so with creativity, if you say, oh, so, well, we’re just going to go from here and see where it takes us. Yeah. And that’s the same thing, then that requires no’s, because then you go, okay, well, then we won’t continue in that direction. Let’s take it a different direction and then it all becomes exploration and adventure. And I — just in the purest sense. And then, you know, the practical elements of life and time and resources and all those things play a part also. But just the essence of creativity is you don’t know how, you don’t know where it’s going to take you, or what it’s going to look like. And that’s okay and a no just helps us redirect.
Tricia: I know for me that community of people that can help you along and encourage you is critical because if you’re sitting in your studio by yourself going, “Whose idea was this?” it’s nice to have somebody reach out and say, okay, help me redirect. Now, you’ve had 40 years of doing this, over 40 years of doing this. What are some of the creative habits that you’ve just sort of adopted along the way to keep the momentum going?
Amy: Well, first off, I don’t know that momentum is sustainable. So I think just realizing that like a pendulum swing, there are times of great creativity and then times of sort of a collection of life experiences because that comes out in creativity. And what you said about it takes a community — yes, yes, yes! I mean, to me, that’s probably the biggest component, because creativity requires solitude, but it needs to be solitude in the context of community. Because otherwise, I just think most creative people are great procrastinators. And so things like, for instance, tonight we’re doing, my husband and I are doing a songwriter in the round. It’s not a ticketed event. It’s a small event. And I asked a good songwriter, but a reluctant performer, would you be a part of this? And she said, How many songs do I need to be able to do? And I said, four. And she took a deep breath and she said, This is just what I needed. I’m trying to stretch, so I’ll make myself be able to perform four songs.
I remember years ago, one of my managers, who is no longer my manager but a dear friend, had a contract that he said, You’ve got to sign this. He kind of rushed into my house, do this, do this, do this. I signed it and it by the way, it was a book deal with a deadline. I was so furious afterwards. I wrote all my thoughts down. I was like, Did you just need your cut right off the top? This requires so much of my life. I thought, well, you know, no holds barred. I just wrote it, wrote it, wrote it. The only person I read that letter to was my husband, because I loved that person. We’d worked together for years. But I was so angry and I finished reading it and I said, What do you think about this? And he said, I think you’re a writer. And I was like, All my energy was like, Why are you doing me wrong? You’ve asked too much. What are you doing? What are you doing? I am busy. I can’t have one more thing. And I went, I am? And you probably actually need the deadline in order to make yourself pursue that gift. And so it’s like, you know, like with creativity, everything is a possibility. Everything is part of the ingredients or the secret sauce.
Tricia: Focusing on perfection is just not going to do. No. It’s just not going to do because that can be a big obstacle for people. How do you feel about perfection in your work?
Amy: I have never struggled with perfection. For one thing, it’s beyond me and to me, if if you can duct tape it, you can fix it. The procrastination is the hard thing for me. And I’m and what I try to remind myself is the goal is to show up. And if you show up, either in the moment by yourself or with somebody else, creativity — there’s a possibility that creativity will happen. And so, yeah, perfection might be some people’s nemesis. Mine is showing up because for whatever reason, I just…it occurs to me to do busy work and other things that occupy what could be creativity.
Tricia: So when you say showing up, showing up for your creative work?
Amy: Yes. Being present. Yeah.
Tricia: So you have, though, a commitment to creativity. We’ve worked, I mean, obviously, just for what you’ve done for a living, but we worked together when you were doing the Creative Discovery weekends, so that you’re trying to encourage other people to pursue their creativity. What made you want to do that?
Amy: To me, the most vibrant environment is one where creativity is celebrated, and especially when creativity, when you mine creativity in other people. When somebody says, I can do what? I did what? I think I have artwork that my children did when they were little. It’s framed and goes up a back hallway, up a stairwell. And what I love about it is the freedom in it. And it’s framed because it’s fearless. You know, when you’re six, you’re not thinking who’s going to compare this bowl of fruit to someone else’s bowl of fruit. It’s just like, here we go. And to me, that’s a good thing to remember. And so, you know, we get older and and that whole game of comparison is such a waste of time.
Tricia: There is something just magical about being in community, because I remember one of the bravest things I’ve ever done in my life was at one of your Creative Discovery weekends. Because we had been telling all of the participants how they needed to step out of their comfort zone and and really show up for themselves creatively. And I thought, well, we might as well model this, and I sang “I Don’t Want to Play House” with Leslie Satcher accompanying me.
But I’ve always wanted to be a country music singer. And so I just got caught up in the community and the courage and everything that was going on. And it was I mean, I will still every now and then look at that and go, I cannot believe I did that. But I did that. I can do something else.
Amy: Yeah. And the invitation was extended.So that’s another thing. In creativity, we have to extend invitations to each other. I remember that weekend, we supplied…we just had ever present little containers of Play-Doh. And I remember saying to people in this break, pick up a few little blobs of Play-Doh and make something, anything. And when we were clearing it away — you laugh because you remember this — you said, Man, what kind of sick person made this out of Play-Doh? And I came around the corner and said, Oh, me. I did! And I don’t know why, but I made a little nest with bird eggs in it and a snake crawling into the nest to eat the eggs.
Tricia: I know it was very dark.
Amy: It was, but it didn’t feel dark. It just felt. I don’t know. That’s just where my mind went with the Play-Doh.
Tricia: So, yeah, I was surprised. I don’t think I said sick person. I just said, This person needs some help.
Amy: Oh, yeah. And that was true too.
Tricia: Like, who knew? Yeah, it was very funny. It was very funny. How do you keep your creative well filled up? How do you make sure you’ve got that stamina going? You had heart surgery, then you had a bike accident, then you had a throat surgery. You’ve kind of been outdoing yourself in the physical front. But we were having conversations about that and you were talking about the first lap that you swam. And you said afterwards with your shoulder and everything that happened that you had you swum your first lap and it felt like controlled drowning. And I love that phrase because it can feel like controlled drowning when you’re outside of a pool, like when you’re just trying to make your way through something.
Amy: Yes. I keep referring to a physical journey that’s been over the last three years because it feels like a template that overlays every aspect of my life. And so just for the sake of explaining that template, I’m going to just say the high points of my physical journey.
Amy: So the year that I was going to turn 60, it was discovered that I had a birth defect, a heart birth defect. And so the cardiologist said, you’ll be fine, fine, fine and then it will be catastrophic. And I had gone with my husband to his stress test results because I felt fine and the cardiologist said we should test you. So it was just such a freak accident that we even discovered I had this birth defect. And so he said, We need to do this surgery before you turn 60. So a few months before I turned 60, I had open heart surgery and so in my desire to kind of rebuild my physical stamina…like, I mean, by the time I turned 60, running felt awful. I’ve had four kids. I thought, well, I can’t run very far and I’m going to wet my pants. But just going, what can I do? What can I do? I’ve never been on a swim team. I’ve never been a swimmer. I never you know, I mean, I don’t have a fear of drowning because I can stay up in the water, but for some reason I decided to swim. I’m in a different city when I’m on the road. A lot of those hotels have pools. They might not be big, they might be a little square pool. But I started trying to swim at least five days a week. And a long pool, I would go to the end and come back and it did feel, I would say it feels like controlled drowning, especially when I joined the Y and their pools are like 25 yards long. But what I realized was that swimming actually was an opportunity to practice breathing and be very aware of breaths in and breaths out. It was, it freed my body. My body was busy doing one thing, so my brain was free to do something else. I loved the way my body worked in tandem with itself, my mind, my body. I actually fell in love with the process of swimming. Not the How many laps did you swim? How fast did you do? But these just the process of swimming so that by the time I’d been swimming for a year, I had somebody that was helping me pick out clothes for a tour and she said, Your entire body has changed. A month later, I had a bike wreck. That required two other surgeries. It took me a while to get back in the pool, but what I said was I loved the process of swimming. And so I got back in the water. It felt once again like controlled drowning. But like everything that’s felt like an insurmountable test to me all of life is like, oh…it’s just… it helps to have a ride to the pool because you both show up. But I still have to put on my soggy, wet suit and my bathing cap and goggles. I look ridiculous. I still have to put my toe in the cold water and slide in. I still have to get to the end of the lane and swim back. And just that process, of saying all of us are participants in the creative process. We have a lane. Sometimes we share that lane, but nobody else creates your participation for you. You have to go through the uncomfortable process of presenting yourself, and then there’s a possibility that something creative will happen. It’s just like it’s affected everything and to me, that has been the biggest hidden gift from my health journey. And everything is the way you look at it. Creativity is the way you look at it. Somebody can go, Oh, this is just a big pile of nothing. This is awful. And somebody else walks in and goes, Oh, a collage. Look at it from this angle, whatever it is.
Tricia: Your health journey is just a big metaphor for the creative process and your creative journey. And all of ours. You know, it’s just, as you said, just falling in love with the process of it and not being so like, well, I did 20 laps today. Well, I did 20 paintings today. Well, I was in 20 cities on my tour. There’s a lot of people out there doing creative work that no one may ever see. You have a wonderful quote from one of the interviews I saw you do before you received the Kennedy Center Honor, and it said, I loved music before anyone was listening. I wrote songs because it helped me understand life. And I loved it because it’s like you weren’t making for an audience. You were making for you. And I think that’s important for all of us who whose work may or may not get as much visibility as we would like it to get, that there is this component of process. How do you see it spilling over for those listeners whose work doesn’t get as much visibility? How do you see the benefits of creativity just spilling over to other areas of their life?
Amy: Well, just the good feeling of paying attention to yourself. Of saying, whether it’s writing out a story, completing a song, or just sitting down to a piano and playing a chord progression, that makes you go, Oh man, I could just play this. Like I could play this ten times over and over. There’s a reason we lean into something. It actually feels good. It brightens something. It brings light in. You can be in the middle of a garden at midnight, and if there’s no light, everything looks black and white. But the sun comes up and you go, Oh my goodness, that light. Suddenly everything is vivid. But without that light, everything does look black and white. So many times I have finished songs because I had a record deadline and so it’s like, Oh, I need to write these songs to record them. So fast forward years…We’re on a family trip. I have invited a few of my grown children. I still have one child that’s in middle school. I have grown children with some significant others with some of their friends. So I’m straddling young adults and a middle schooler. I am sort of the host and footing the bill. So I’m sort of wanting things a certain way and then trying to let go of that. Anyway, I’m trying to get things arranged, and everybody else goes to dinner. And I came back, and my middle school child said it made me sad at dinner because everybody was talking about you and it wasn’t nice. And I’m just like sitting there going, Oh my gosh, my sisters and I used to sit around and talk about my mother! Oh, my gosh, My children are sitting around talking about me! And and I’m footing the bill and they have every right to talk about me. It was such a collision of emotion in my head. It was such a collision. I was alone in the room that I was sharing with my middle school child. I was so unsettled and I picked up my guitar and I started singing songs that I usually sing on a stage to a ticketed audience. Oh, but I know them. I know them well. It was like putting on an old pair of shoes. And I went, Oh, my gosh, I need that. I need to hear that. What was I thinking when I wrote that? Who was I writing for? I was writing that for me. I was…Oh, my gosh. That one gave me a soft place to land. Oh, that one reminded me of the big picture. And it was the most poignant experience of thinking that I had lived my life with a gift for music that was meant for other people. And I went, Oh, no, that gift is meant first and foremost for the person who receives the gift. I trust because — I believe love created every one of us with a unique set of gifts and tool kit and all that, knowing intrinsically, Oh, in order to live a life, this matters to this person. And so if somebody does art that nobody ever sees, the recipient of that gift is exercising that gift and feeling that gift. And I think that’s the primary purpose of a gift is to make life livable for the person who holds the gift.
Tricia: We’ll get back to the second half of our conversation in a moment. But right now, I want to tell you about our sponsor Interabang Books, a Dallas-based independent bookstore with a terrific online collection. At Interabang, their dedicated staff of book enthusiasts will guide you on your search for knowledge and the excitement of discovery. Shop their curated collection online at interabangbooks.com. That’s interabangbooks.com.
We’ve talked a little bit about your battle with fear while you were singing. And all of us battle with fear in some way. And one of your solutions was to go into your Airstream and practice.
Amy: Where no one could hear me.
Tricia: Where no one could hear you. That’s right. I really think you just need to cut an album that is the Airstream Sessions. I just love the whole idea of the Airstream, Talk a little bit about that experience and working your way through that.
Amy: To sing songs, some of the same songs for over 40 years, you go, Okay, well, I’ve got to take this down a half step. Oh, down another half step, oh, down another half step. Oh, is anybody looking for the way it sounded in 1991? Because I’m not that same girl. That was half my life ago. So this song is best known sounding like that, but I’m showing up as who I am now. That comparison to a younger version of yourself, it’s got to happen to all of us who stand on a stage. So one of the hidden gifts of the bike accident was that trauma, physical trauma can take a preexisting cyst or a preexisting something and cause it to grow in a rapid way. And so I discovered a thyroglossal duct cyst — once again in utero. I had a pocket that never closed in my throat, that created a cyst, and at some point, I believe, started affecting the way I was singing. And so in December, after six months of recovery and I’m working with a vocal coach to try to figure out just to try to sing. And I hadn’t been singing for six months. And she said, Will you lean your head back? And I can see there’s something in your throat. And I said, I know. I think I’m headed for sexual confusion because I’m growing an Adam’s apple. And we laugh. And she said, No, lean your head back. And she said, It’s off center. It’s in the front of your throat. And I said, I know. I mean, probably 15 years I’ve known something was there, but it’s like gotten very brave. So I go for an MRI, I go for a CAT scan, I do all this stuff and they say, this has got to come out. And then it was affecting my swallowing. I mean, it was like, this is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t know how long that thing would have just been in my throat. But after a five-hour surgery, the doctor said, Oh, my goodness, there was so much — not in the swallowing part of my throat but the interior part around my vocal cords — he said there was so much infection. We had to take out part of the bone. When this heals up, your vocal cords are actually fine, but it would be like somebody handing you a new mini tramp. The bounce is going to be different. There’s nothing wrong with your vocal cords, but this is a different context in which to sing and you’re going to have to find it. So I went, okay, nothing’s broken, but…And I started singing, and it sounded so bad I couldn’t predict pitch. I mean, it was like, Whoo! And it was hard for me to sing in our very open house that has very few doors because musicians come and go. Our children sing. Everybody’s a great singer. I, like, have a career in music and I sounded like a howling dog. And I thought, where am I going to sing? There’s nowhere to sing. There’s nowhere to sing. And so Vince, Vince had a dear friend who was getting rid of a Bambi Airstream years ago, and Vince said, My wife loves to camp. I hate it. I’ll buy that Airstream and maybe I’ll go camping with her. Maybe. This was years ago. He did sleep in that Airstream till 2 a.m. one time and said, I’m done. I’m going home. But I have the Airstream. I’ve gone camping by myself. Anyway, I said, we’ve got to get an electrician. It’s freezing cold. I’ve got to put a plug so I can put the Airstream in the back of the driveway and make it work. And I would go out to that Airstream with old recordings of myself. Like when I was younger. I needed to remember those songs for when I eventually went back on the road. And some of them would start and I’d go, I don’t even remember this song. Was that because I’m turning 62 or because I had a blow to the head? I don’t know. It didn’t even matter. I had to relearn my songs. And then I’m also singing in that original key. I mean, at 61, this last fall, at 61, I was singing along with an 18-year-old version of myself. And it sounded so bad that I sang with, I put in Earpods so I could not hear myself.
Tricia: Oh, Amy.
Amy: And I would, you know, and the Airstream was positioned so I could see people come in. One time, we had a houseguest who opened the door and she said, Man, that was a glare. And I said, It’s because I’m embarrassed. I didn’t see you coming. But I said, I’ve got to do this at least 2 hours a day, at least 2 hours a day. And I did that until it was time to go into a rehearsal. At which point, the band kicks into a song and I said, Why are we doing this song so low? Can we try it up a half step? Can we try it up another half step? Can we try it? And so I had this unique experience of raising the keys, not of everything, but of, for the most part, raising the keys of the song that I had done with my slowly failing voice. And it was just a hidden gift in thinking that maybe I was on the path to losing everything. And then going, oh my gosh, the recovery forced me to reengage. And I don’t know if it was taking that growth out of my throat, which was, you know, wreaking havoc or I don’t know if it was that I was singing, that I let a younger, unafraid version of myself be my teacher and my mentor. Or I’m not sure. My mantra was Sing without fear. Sing without fear. Because you can take a great golfer and he can screw up one shot. And if he allows that to get in his head, then every swing has the yips. He’s never free. I mean, we add fear to anything and our freedom is gone. And if you just say whatever happens, it’s okay. It’s okay. Whatever happens. Okay. And so that process for me had to start by not being able to hear all my failure. And so when I couldn’t hear my failure, as in swimming, I fell in love with the process. Because I always loved singing. And when you can identify something that you love, every time you do it, you feel the yes in your body. It didn’t matter what it sounded like. I felt the yes in my body. And then little by little, I would like take out one earpod and I was like, Hey, that’s not half bad. It’s not awful. And, you know, and and it’s interesting because now I, I see the importance in occasionally making myself, unable to hear when I sing.
Tricia: So how do you feel about your voice now?
Amy: I know that like an aging athlete, for me to sing, I have to warm up. Like, it really takes a while. It takes over an hour to really grease the wheel. And if I choose not to warm up, then about halfway through a concert, I’m going to feel good.
Tricia: I see.
Amy: But I feel the same way about swimming. When I first start swimming, getting a pattern for breathing is uncertain and it can still feel like moments, not of controlled drowning, but just like the wheels not greased yet. And then I feel that all of a sudden my body stretches differently. My curiosity about how I’m moving in the water. Try this. Maybe this hand position. What it would be like if you curved during this part of the stroke? Like creativity suddenly presents itself in water, in that moment of swimming, the same way creativity presents itself when you’re cooking. Hey, what would this taste like that ?
Tricia: You are one of the most curious people I know. And it is that question I got…This is the question they taught me in art school. What happens if I do this? And it’s, what happens if I do this?
Amy: That’s a great question.
Tricia: It’s a great question. What happens if I do this? Well, what happens if I do this? And then it then it goes back to process because it’s not, we’re not worried about the end product. It’s just, what happens? What happens? What happens?
Tricia: In one of our conversations, you were talking about a concert you had in Kalamazoo, and you said to the audience, This is the first time I haven’t had calluses on your guitar hand because she hadn’t played in so long. And I love that idea of the calluses on your hand, this sort of physical evidence of your creative work. I mean, there was something so moving to me about knowing that you have calluses on your guitar hand. And it made me think about where do my calluses show up, you know, of where I’m working, what I’m working on, what I’m doing. And it was interesting when you said that you hadn’t played in so long, they disappeared, you know. Are they starting to come back?
Amy: Yes. Yes. When you first start playing guitar, those metal strings, they hurt the tips of your fingers. And I had had shoulder surgery, so I couldn’t actually hold my guitar after the bike wreck. So it hurt to play and hurt my pride because I’d forgotten so many chords. But that’s where I’m so thankful that just my wiring…Maybe it was the environment in which I was raised, the youngest of four girls by very gentle parents. Just showing up was enough.
Tricia: You’ve had several opportunities to go, I’m done here. And because you had this fabulous Kennedy Center Honor, that could be well, I’ve just capped off, you know, I’ve just done it. I can stop now. I’ve had this physical journey. I’ve been recognized for my life’s work. I’m going to coast now, when in fact, in one of your interviews, you said you think you’ve got one good record left in you. And which is so again, as a fellow 62-year-old, like, yes, let’s go. Let’s just keep it going, because I know you were just starting to write new music after how many years? How long has it been?
Amy: It’s been ten. Ten years.
Tricia: Ten years?
Amy: Yes. Okay. So ten years since I’ve recorded anything that wasn’t holiday in the studio.
Tricia: Since how Mercy looks from here?
Amy: Mm hmm.
Tricia: And you’ve just released a new song called Trees Will Never See, which I couldn’t help but thinking also has to do with the creative act.
(Excerpt from Trees We’ll Never See)
Because we make things sometimes and we don’t know who’s going to hear them? Who’s going to be affected by that? Talk to me a little bit about what it felt like. I know Marshall Altman co-wrote it with who is It, Michael White.
Tricia: How did it feel? Rehearsing it and recording that song for the first time in ten years?
Amy: So I think about what pulled me back into a creative space. The summer of 2022, I was invited by Cory Asbury to sing a background potential duet on his first country record. And so then the bike wreck happened. Then other things, you know, the healing journey. Then I went on a Christmas tour. Then I had to have throat surgery. They could have, you know, they could have had anybody come in and sing that part, but for whatever reason, they waited on me. And so Marshall Altman said, Hey, I’ll help you do this vocal. And so come to my studio. Well, as it turns out, that song that Cory Asbury sings, written I’m assuming, by Cory and his producer, Paul Mayberry, it’s called These Are the Days That We’ll Want Back. Oh, it was so moving. I would like sing a line and say. Roll the tape again, I was crying. And Marshall, the producer, he said, like, I’m a hardened criminal out here. I do music all the time. I’m crying. We were so moved by this song. And so after after I’d finished, I said, you know, every once in a while you’ll hear a song or you’ll write a song and it feels so close to the bone. And I said, I wrote a song after a therapy session with one of my kids, and I sang it for him. And then he said, You know, I wrote a song five years ago with a friend of mine, and I can’t imagine it’ll ever be recorded. And he sang Trees Will Never See. And I went and he looked at me. He said, What are we waiting on? And while we were there, having just sung the background part on this song that moved us, and so we started discussing songs. He picks up the phone and starts reaching out to musicians. Are you free? And he said to me, Are you free this Saturday? And I said, No, but I am the next. And then, like, while we’re sitting there, because we all have gifts and one of his is getting it recorded. We never would have been in that room. It’s been ten years since we’ve been in a studio like that. With time on our hands that we were moved by somebody else’s creativity. And so we each shared a song that we kind of had in our back pocket with no intention of recording. And so that’s why just showing up. Yeah, the sharing of ideas. We are moved by each other’s ideas. Not in a comparison way, but in an encouraging way to go that reminds me of this idea. Yeah. And that day, Marshall said, Any time you have an idea, I can clear any Friday, let’s start doing it. So, so much of it is just starting the conversation. Yeah. What if I did this? What was your question?
Tricia: What happens if I do this?
Amy: What happens if I do this?
Tricia: What happens if I do this? Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I think that’s a perfect place to end and we can’t wait to hear what that next song is going to be, hopefully another album in the future soon. But thank you again for joining us.
Amy: My pleasure. I love spending time with you. And we’ve been friends since college.
Tricia: It has been some time. It’s been sometime. Loving every minute of it. Thank you, sweet friend.
Amy: Thank you.
Tricia: Amy gave us a lot of gems in that interview. Like the goal was to just show up, comparison is a waste of time, and the importance of falling in love with the process of whatever you’re doing, whether it’s swimming or singing. But the thread through her entire 40-year career has been connection, connection with herself and with her community. And it made me think of some questions to ask myself and you.
What creative connections are you cultivating and nurturing in your life? What creative act makes your life more livable? How are you showing up for your creativity? And here’s a challenge: Try to ask yourself at least once a day, what happens if I do this? Because, look, if I can sing country music for the first time in front of an audience that includes a multi-Grammy Award-winning singer songwriter then I’m pretty sure you can take a creative risk in the privacy of your own home.
To learn more about Amy and her upcoming shows, go to AmyGrant.com. And make sure you listen to Amy’s new songs “Trees Will Never See” and “What You Heard,” wherever you get your music from.
If you haven’t had a chance to download the No Time to be Timid manifesto yet, make sure to visit my website, triciaroseburt.com. And while you’re there, please reach out and give us some feedback about the show. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
And if you feel like this is no time to be timid in your own life, then maybe I can help you with that. In my private coaching practice, I help my clients to tell and live better stories. Some of them are artists and creatives who want to express themselves in a new medium. Others are leaders who want to motivate groups to take action. And many of them are business professionals who want to better communicate with their customers and employees. You can reach out to me at triciaroseburt.com.
Thanks for listening. Please join us for episode two with Shannon Cason, storyteller extraordinaire and host of the podcast Homemade Stories. And he has got some stories to tell and some terrific advice on how to sustain a creative life. Make sure to tune in and remember, this is no time to be timid.
No Time to Be Timid is written and produced by me, Tricia Rose Burt, and our sound engineer is Adam Arnone of Echo Finch. Many thanks to Mia Rovegno, who provided creative direction for season two.
If you like what you hear, please spread the word, subscribe to the show, and review us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. No Time to be Timid is a presentation of I Will be Good Productions.