Natalie Grant was raised in Lynnwood, Washington, just outside of Seattle. She was the youngest of five children, who all attended the Assembly of God Church. Grant enrolled at Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington, and was planning to become an elementary school teacher. She was also working at the Shoreline Community Church arranging music for the youth choir. "I had my whole life planned out and I was really involved in music at Shoreline, which had an incredible youth music program," Grant told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Then, a Christian music group called Truth performed at her church. Grant was immediately drawn to their music and message. She auditioned with the band while they were there. "I heard them perform and I said to myself, 'This is what I'm supposed to be doing. And my whole life took a left turn.'"
Grant does not have the traditional voice normally associated with Christian contemporary singers. She has a powerful voice that is able to perform both gospel and soul. "I'd describe my style as big-voice pop. But I love gospel music. My favorite style of music is black gospel," she told the Intelligencer. She spent two years touring with Truth, admitting it was sometimes very difficult living on a bus and performing more than 300 shows a year.
After leaving Truth, Grant decided to try and make it on her own. However, by the time she got to Nashville to get started on her career, she only had $200 in cash in her pocket. Nevertheless, Grant had faith that this was God's plan for her life. "A family took me in. I had no place to live, no car, no job," she told the Intelligencer. She quickly got a job as the secretary and worship leader at an interracial church in Nashville.
Grant signed a deal with Benson Records in 1997 and cut her first album, Natalie Grant. The album featured a song called "I Am Not Alone," which was co-written by Utah state senator Orrin Hatch and Madeline Stowe. Shortly after the release of the album, Grant left the Benson label. "People thought I was crazy to be walking away from a record deal," she said to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "But two months later they closed. So looking back, I was able to say, 'Gosh, that was the right thing to do.'" The tie to Senator Hatch also earned Grant an invitation to perform at the Republican National Convention in 2000.
Then, in 2001, she released Stronger under the Pamplin Music label, which her new husband, Bernie Harms, helped produce. On this album, Grant had a greater responsibility for the material. She wrote "I Love to Praise" and also co-wrote four additional songs, and included her sister, Bethanee Engelsvold, who wrote the lyrics for "Only You" and "Such a Wonder." "I'm usually more of the melody person," Grant told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "But I've developed as a writer. ... and I'm definitely writing more lyrics now."
Grant was particularly proud of the final number on the album, titled "Finally Home," because it showcased her talent. She told the Intelligencer, "You can make anybody sound good today because of technology and what you can do with computers. ...But that last song has all those elements stripped away, and it's just strictly live. It's just a live piano and orchestra. There was something very unadulterated about it. It's a purely musical moment and I'm very proud of that moment."
Pamplin Music folded shortly after the release of Stronger. But Grant kept trying, and was picked up by Curb Records. "I think it was just a matter of ... being put to the test and proving what my commitment was and deciding, 'Is this what you really want to do?'" Her answer was a determined "yes," Grant told the Florida Times Union.
On Curb Records, she released Deeper Life, on which she wrote or co-wrote six of the twelve songs. While Deeper Life was a contemporary Christian album, it gained a lot of attention from pop and R&B audiences. The crossover success "is something I didn't really expect," she told the Florida Times Union. "I think the bottom line is that people in general are looking for more out of life than that quick fix. ... I think people are looking for things that offer hope and offer peace in the midst of a world that, to be honest, doesn't offer a lot of that."
Grant enjoys sharing her faith, scheduling her touring schedule around mission trips and other activities. "One of the greatest things I've had a chance to be involved with has been a thing called Women of Faith," she told the Florida Times Union, recalling an appearance at one of the conferences that typically draw thousands of women. "I saw everyone from young girls under the age of 10 to older women, different races, different denominations, all coming together for one purpose: to better ourselves and our faith."
In 2004 she released Worship with Natalie Grant and Friends on the Integrity Music label. She is scheduled to release Awaken with Curb Records in 2005. Grant has been nominated twice, in 2002 and 2003, for the Dove Awards' Female Vocalist of the Year category. She also had a song used in the film View from the Top, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, and Mike Myers, called "No Sign of It." Grant lives with her husband in Brentwood, Tennessee.
For the Record . . .
BRaised in Lynnwood, WA; married Bernie Harms. Education: Attended Northwest College in Kirk land, Washington.
Toured with Truth for two years before moving to Nashville; signed with Benson Records, 1997; released Natalie Grant, 1999; released Stronger, 2001; released Deeper Life, 2003; released Worship with Natalie Grant and Friends, 2004.
Addresses: Management—Mitchell Entertainment, 1229 17th Ave. S. ...200, Nashville, TN 37212, phone: (615) 322-9555, fax: (615) 322-9565. Booking— Breen Agency, http://www.breenagency.com, phone: (615) 777-2227. Personal—Natalie Grant, P.O. Box 24495, Nashville, TN 37202. Website—Natalie Grant Official Website: http://www.nataliegrant.com.
Natalie Grant, Benson, 1999.
Stronger, Pamplin, 2001.
Deeper Life, Curb, 2003.
Worship with Natalie Grant and Friends, Sony, 2004.
Dayton Daily News, February 21, 2003.
Florida Times Union, August 27, 2003.
Grand Rapids Press, April 7, 2003.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 5, 2002.
Tampa Tribune, August 16, 2003.
Today's Christian Woman, July-August 2003.
Natalie Grant Official Website, http://www.nataliegrant.com (January 2, 2005).
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