The artists performing in the K-Love Christmas Tour have just started rehearsals, but singer Natalie Grant says that based on the set list, it will be “a lot of fun. There’s even a Santa Claus.”
“It’ll be fun for people of all ages, but at the end of the day, the message of Christmas will come shining through for sure,” Grant said in an interview full of her laughter.
She said that the show will be packed with Christmas music but that some of her radio songs will be performed.
“I have a new record that just came out, so I’ll be performing the title cut ‘Be One’ as well as another song that has only been out a few weeks now called ‘Clean.’
“We put up a live performance video of it. It got 2.7 million hits. I was like, ‘I think people like that song so maybe I should perform that one.’ Then I do an older song of mine called ‘Your Great Name.’ ”
In addition to Grant, Tenth Avenue North, Sidewalk Prophets and Danny Gokey will sing.
“I’ve performed with all of them at different times. I’ve been doing this for 16 years, so at some point, you seem to run into people ... I’ve toured with Sidewalk Prophets.
“Danny Gokey opened for me on my tour last year. I’ve known the Tenth Avenue North guys for a long time.”
K-Love, the Christian radio network, put together the tour. K-Love has stations across south Louisiana.
“I think the other thing that will be fun for people is the collaborations throughout the night. ... I’m going to be singing a song with Tenth Avenue North, Danny Gokey and myself with the lead singer of Sidewalk Prophets will sing together. So all throughout the night, we’ll come together for moments of performing together, which will make the night really special.”
Grant has a lot of interests in and out of music. Here’s a quick look at some of that:
We talked about Christmas on the road; what about Christmas in your household?
Because of what I do for a living, Christmas starts early in my household. We decorated Nov. 1. We started enjoying our Christmas trees at my house because I have three little girls, twin daughters that are 8 and another little girl that will turn 5 while we are on the Christmas tour. ... I am from Seattle, so the day after the tour ends, we’ll get on a plane and fly to see my mom and dad and all of my siblings. On Christmas Eve, we always get together around the piano. ... I can’t wait. I love Christmas Eve when we all sing together.
Is there lots of music in your home, since your husband (producer Bernie Herms) also works in the industry?
There’s tons of music. I think sometimes what can be tricky about doing music for a living is to not forget to just do music just because you love it. ... Sometimes I think we can get so burned out on music that I just long for the silence. We have a grand piano in our front room. Oftentimes my husband just sits down and just plays for the joy of it. I think my daughters ... hearing Daddy not playing because he’s trying to figure out an arrangement for an artist he’s producing but just playing for the joy of it really helps to keep that music fun and joyful in our house.
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
I’m going to be singing it, it’s called “O Holy Night.”
Do you have a favorite style?
I love all different kinds of music. If I just had to pick one, I grew up loving black gospel music and I love the emotion you can feel in it. I feel like true gospel artists kind of spread themselves into a song from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. ...
I grew up loving CeCe Winans. I loved Whitney Houston. ... I also loved Richard Smallwood and the whole Winans family and Commissioned.
Mahalia Jackson. My dad would play her records for me literally on vinyl when I was a little girl. So I grew up loving that type of very emotive music. I think people can sense that stye throughout the parts I sing.
As I’ve gotten older, and especially living in Nashville, I can appreciate a great country song. It’s just a well-crafted song. The older I get, the more I appreciate all different types of music.
Tell us a little bit about the album that came out on Nov. 13.
It’s my, goodness, ninth album. So I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I know what I do. I’m comfortable in my own musical skin. I’m not trying to break any barriers or anything. But I wanted it to be fresh, and I feel like we accomplished that.
We did it in an interesting way. ... We made this one — from the time we started writing the songs to the time the last note was sung on the record — it was only six weeks.
I think my husband and I really learned a lot in the process because we didn’t overthink.
I think as people we have a tendency to overthink every detail and to jiggle with it and jiggle it and jiggle it. Sometimes ... what its original form was so much better than what you end up with.
... I felt very compelled to make this record. ... (in) what I felt like (God) was teaching me about a shift in perspective in my life. Instead of being a culture that constantly focuses on what we need, we need to become a culture that focuses on what God has already done. Many of the songs are written from that perspective.
We just went with the initial gut instinct and never looked back, and I think the record is better for it.
... Even my fans who have been with me for a long time say there is something different about this record, and that’s so fulfilling for me. I feel like there’s something different, but ultimately it’s the people that are listening to it that decide.
Any other projects you want to talk about?
I’ve got a children’s book series coming out in January with a publisher named Zondervan. ... I was excited they came to me and said, ‘Hey have you ever thought about doing kids’ books?’
I said, ‘Actually, I have.’
My twin daughters started reading chapter books last year, and there just wasn’t a whole lot in the tween girl category that were really interesting but weren’t overly — sometimes in Christianity we try too hard to make the point ... It was like, ‘Ew, no thank you.’
I felt like outside of Christian books, the cute classics, there’s not as many available for that age range. And a lot of them were just full of little girls that were sassy and spoiled and had bad attitudes. I thought, ‘Why do I want my kids reading about this? I don’t, actually.’
My girls and I wrote the series together. It’s called the Glimmer Girls.
It’s based on twin sisters, Mia and Maddie Glimmer, and their little sister, LuLu, who go on tour with their famous singing mom named Gloria Glimmer.
While mom’s on stage, the girls are off solving mysteries.
The first book is the ‘London Art Chase.’ My daughter, Bella, came up with the concept of going to the National Gallery in London and the idea that there would be an art fest.
The second book is ‘A Dolphin Wish.’
My daughter, Gracie, who loves dolphins, wanted it to be on that.
They were very involved in writing the books.”
I saw that last year you were involved in jewelry and fashion.
The store (NG by Natalie Grant)... just celebrated one year. ... I think we sold over 20,000 pieces of jewelry, which I thought if we sold 200 it would be a miracle.
... It started (with) a stay-at-home mom had a dream. She made hand-stamped jewelry. She made me a necklace, and I loved it so much, I thought, No. 1, I think I could sell these, and No. 2, I think I could design pieces that were not only encouraging but something that would be a little reminder. Like the necklace that says, ‘She will not be moved’ for a woman who needs to remain steadfast or another piece of jewelry that says ‘All things new’ for someone who needs to be reminded that that’s what God does through faith — he makes things new.
People really responded. ... I love the fact that people love the jewelry, love the designs. But more than that: the stay-at-home mom who had the dream of starting her own business now has four employees!
I know you are into fighting human trafficking. Tell me about that.
About 10 years ago, I started an organization ... Operation International. We merged with another organization. Together we are now known as Hope for Justice.
It all started, I was watching a television show in 2004 called ‘Law & Order.’ They were doing an episode on human trafficking.
In 2004, nobody was talking about human trafficking, so I had never heard of it before. I always remember ‘Law & Order’ saying they were ripped from the headlines. ...
I was sitting in my living room going, ‘There is no way this is actually real. What headlines did they rip this from?’
So I googled, ‘What is human trafficking?’ And that’s where I learned for the first time that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history. Most are under the age of 18. Most are ravaged day in and day out. It was a life-altering moment for me. Three months later, I went to India with my husband. We saw little girls for sale on the street with our own eyes. We saw a 5-year-old girl on the street for sale. ...
At that point I just thought, I have a microphone, I have a platform and I can tell people about this. We can support the work of those that are rescuing these girls in India. That’s how it started.
And fast-forward a little over 10 years now, and we are on three different continents and seven different countries. ... I think ‘Wait. I was just watching “Law & Order.” ’
It truly blows my mind what can happen when we simply say yes when we don’t really know all the details but we know that we have to. We know that we are compelled to do something. ... Within the first six months of this year we rescued over 100 girls, all of them under the age of 15.