After a season away due to the pandemic, Nashville singer-songwriter Amy Grant and her husband, Vince Gill, are back for their Christmas at the Ryman concert series.

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Amy Grant at Christmas
Credit: David McClister; Prop Styling: Katie Eller/Art Ramblers; Wardrobe: Trish Townsend; Hair and Makeup: Mary Beth Felts/Zenobia

Returning to the Ryman Auditorium each December feels as familiar and festive to Amy Grant as sorting through her Yuletide treasures. "It's like going into storage and pulling out the oldest cardboard box of ornaments I've duct-taped over and over," says the Nashville performer. "Prepping for those shows is part of that same rhythm for me." Last year, the coronavirus pandemic and an unexpected open-heart surgery interrupted that cadence. But 2021 has proven to be a celebratory comeback: In July, she released the 30th-anniversary edition of her Grammy-nominated album Heart in Motion, and this fall, a rescheduled tour took her to both coasts. With sold-out Christmas shows just around the corner, Amy shares how she welcomes in the season.

Why I'm Especially Grateful for Live Music Now

"I think one of the unsettling experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic was that, without the unifying things that we are accustomed to, it seemed like all of our differences were on grand display. It felt very divisive. There were so many benefits to opening our eyes and seeing each other, stewing in our own juices and coming to terms with who we are—the good and the bad. But sporting events and concerts are occasions where people can sit side by side and be so different yet still cheer for the same thing. When what brings us together is absent, we really miss it."

What Creativity Means to Me

"There were times in my life when I felt like all I did was eat, sleep, and breathe music. I don't feel that way now, because creativity expresses itself in so many forms. We don't even realize all the ways we use it, like when you're staring into a refrigerator with C-plus leftovers and have a few things in your pantry, but then you take what you've got and start making something appealing."

Amy Grant with Christmas Tree
Credit: David McClister; Prop Styling: Katie Eller/Art Ramblers; Wardrobe: Trish Townsend; Hair and Makeup: Mary Beth Felts/Zenobia

The Holiday Tradition I Love

"I think I'll be filling stockings for my family until I'm dead. Our oldest, Jenny, has two kids, and our daughter Millie is expecting a baby. They're not waking up in this house on Christmas morning anymore, but even my grown kids have said, 'Can we always do stockings?' And I love it. To me, it's about appreciating the uniqueness—or the quirkiness—of the people you care about. All of that can be reflected in small, thoughtful gifts."

How Christmas Albums are Special

"I'm honored when people tell me that my music is part of their own traditions. It never ever gets old for someone to say, 'Your record is what we put on every Christmas morning,' or 'This is what I grew up with.' Some dear friends of ours used to always decorate their tree with the movie White Christmas on when their daughters were young. Now their daughters have daughters, and the little bitties sing all the songs too. I know what that feels like. My family does the same thing with Nat King Cole's music."

A Secret for Savoring the Present

"Part of my job is creating environments that feel welcoming. For women at Christmastime—and I'm saying this to myself first and foremost—it's so important to set aside a pocket of time (even 5 or 10 minutes) to put on the teakettle, light a candle, turn off the phone, and listen to a song. That's been one of the most valuable lessons I've learned as a woman and a creative: Whatever atmosphere you're trying to make for other people, it's important to welcome yourself to it first."