by: Courtesy of Amy Grant Gospel star Amy Grant is touring with Michael W. Smith for the first time in 20 years, stopping in the Portland area Sept. 14.

Music industry veteran Amy Grant knows a thing or two about touring.

Grant, 50, has spent much of her life on the road promoting her 17 albums and dedicating time to her philanthropic work. She's won six Grammys, earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is one of the few artists to score a No. 1 song in each of the last three decades.

Grant's string of hits started with her debut as a teenager, Christmas music in the '80s and was followed by her becoming one of the first gospel artists to reach mainstream pop success with No. 1 songs such as 'Baby Baby.'

Grant and fellow musician Michael W. Smith will reunite for the first time in two decades for a show Sept. 14 at Rolling Hills Community Church, 3550 S.W. Borland Road in Tualatin (tickets: ). Grant, who's on her '2 Friends' tour, shared some of her thoughts with Pamplin Media Group:

Pamplin Media Group: What do you enjoy most about touring?

Amy Grant: I love live music. I love going to other people's shows. I love making it. It doesn't feel like a job but it's definitely how I love spending time.

PMG: What are some must-have essentials you bring on the road?

Grant: I know from experience that, really, you can get by with nothing. You can borrow anything. Health, really, is the only must-have essential. I've forgotten my guitar; I borrowed one. I've had my clothes not show up; I borrowed some.

PMG: Do you have a favorite song off your latest album, 'Somewhere Down the Road?'

Grant: 'Better than a Hallelujah.' It's a beautifully written song. I can brag on it endlessly because I was not one of the writers; I wish I had been. I just love the effect that that song has. Every night I look from one end of the audience to the other, especially during the line 'beautiful, the mess we are,' and everyone's waving arms and it's like they're saying, 'I'm a mess, how 'bout you?'

PMG: I hear that album was a bit of a family affair, with your husband, country superstar Vince Gill, and your children?

Grant: Yes, Vince is singing and produced a remake of an old song. Jenny Gill, the oldest of our blended family, sings on the record. She's on the road with me right now. She's a great singer. And my daughter, Sarah, sang on the record.

PMG: This recent album is your 17th album. What keeps you motivated from one project to the next?

Grant: I have always been passionate about songwriting since I was a kid. And long after my window of opportunity to record is gone, I know I'll keep writing. The process of creativity is worth it in itself, even if no one else ever hears it.

PMG: You had an album called 'Simple Things.' What are simple things that make you happy?

Grant: A great cup of coffee. Any time outside. I love being outside. I don't care if it's raining. I love thunderstorms. I'm from the South. Humidity does not bother me. At least my pores are getting cleaned out. I love fire. I was a pyromaniac when I was a kid, but I never damaged anything really important. I am really excited right now about recycling.

PMG: Who has been your greatest influence?

Grant: Carole King, hands down. I love her songwriting. And in my estimation, she was a good singer and wasn't a perfectionist with vocal acrobatics.

PMG: The music industry is changing so fast. It seems like every day there's a new young female act such as Taylor Swift or Demi Lovato. Any advice for them?

Grant: Aim to surround yourself with people of integrity. And from a talent standpoint, always work with people more talented than you are.

PMG: Some people are dreamers. And some people are do-ers. And you seem to be both with your philanthropic work, especially. Where do you get that work ethic?

Grant: I don't know. I'm an O blood type. My sister gave me this book years ago called 'Eat Right for Your Blood Type.' Interestingly enough, our nanny Phyllis - who is like my sister - has been with me since my first child was born 24 years ago. She is a blood type where stress relief for her is soft music, yoga, lighting a candle. Do you know what stress relief is for an O blood type? Strenuous activity.

PMG: Your album is 'Somewhere Down the Road.' Where will you be down the road?

Grant: This January I'm going back in the studio and hopefully we'll have a record finished by April. And then I'll have the winter and spring to be home and it'll be out sometime next year.

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