When the 15-year-old Grant released her first album in 1977, she felt embraced by the Church. That began to change in the 80’s when she grew in popularity and became known as the “Christian Madonna.”
“She’s not always wise in the way she says things,” Grant’s pastor said during a Christianity Today interview. “She doesn’t want to be a sex symbol, but wants sex to be seen as a good thing, a godly thing.”
In 1991, the multi-Grammy Award winning artist released her album Heart in Motion, which is included the #1 hit Baby Baby. The song was about her newborn daughter Millie. The album was considered a crossover from the Christian market to the mainstream, as Grant became popular outside the Christian community.
Grant’s ninth studio album went on to become the bestselling Christian music album to ever be released, selling over 5 million copies. However, many within the Christian music world sharply criticized the album for not talking about Jesus enough.
Grant’s best friend and Christian music icon Michael W. Smith recalled wanting to “duke it out with the critics” for the things they were saying about Grant’s album and personal faith.
In 1999, Grant and her husband Gary Chapman, who was also a CCM artist, divorced after 17 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Grant was rumored to be in a romantic relationship with country singer Vince Gill since 1994, but the two maintained that they were only friends. Grant and Gill married in 2000 and had a daughter together in 2001.
Grant’s divorce and remarriage resulted in some Christian radio stations taking her songs out of their rotations. CCM Magazine interviewed Grant in 2002, and afterward Grant said the interviewer misrepresented her by only quoting the portions of the interview that would reflect poorly on her.
Grant once said during an interview, “Let’s get real. You want to know what my real black ugly stuff is? Go look in the mirror and everything that’s black and ugly about you, it’s the same about me. That’s what Jesus died for.”
CCM in the 1980’s and 1990’s
Even though Billy Graham embraced “The Jesus Music” scene, many Christian parents did not.
Eddie DeGarmo, CCM artist and one of the founders of highly successful Forefront Records, said in that that CCM came into its own during the 1980’s. “It had gotten over the growing pains,” DeGarmo said. However, the pushback didn’t come from the mainstream culture. It came from within the Church. “The Church didn’t accept us, ” DeGarmo said.