Outside it's a drizzly January afternoon in Nashville. But inside Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, the legendary dive bar where bygone Grand Ole Opry stars wrote hit songs on tabletops, Contemporary Christian pop singer Amy Grant warms the stage, crooning a sexy ballad she wrote with her husband of 11 years, Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill.
True love, making up for lost time
True love waiting
Your love, that's finally mine…*
Gill strums an acoustic guitar. "Keep goin', baby," he says. Tootsie's is such a hallowed hole that even the rich and famous drop in to play for free once in a while. Minutes later Gill and Grant nestle in a corner booth, holding hands. Gill leans in closer to his wife, who's wearing a striped tunic and a pair of well-worn cowboy boots, and says," You know what? You look fabulous right now."
Beyond Tennessee, other husband-and-wife teams — Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, say, or Tim McGraw and Faith Hill — grab headlines as Nashville's most visible twosomes. But in Music City, insiders tell you differently: The appealingly understated Vince Gill, 54, and Amy Grant, 50, are this town's most romantic, true power couple. Now, as Grant has just wrapped up a national tour and Gill prepares to release a new, all-originals CD, the couple find themselves reflecting on the long and painful journey that has brought them to what they each call the best time of their lives.
With his luminous tenor, and guitar licks so inventive that Eric Clapton studies his moves, Gill, who has accumulated 20 Grammy awards and 18 Country Music Association trophies, arrived on the music scene "just dripping talent," says close friend and fellow musician Rodney Crowell. But it was Gill's marriage to Grant (who has six Grammys and 22 Dove Awards for gospel music to her credit) that grounded him in a profound way. "Sometimes one person in your life puts that final block in place, and you step into the ownership of who you are," explains Crowell. "That was a positive merging right there — two great, fun-loving, accessible people. They're the perfect couple and parents, fully realized human beings and philanthropists. And there's absolutely no pretension about them, which is very rare."
Theirs is the story of how the prince of country and the princess of gospel risked their reputations to become the king and queen of hearts. "It was really hard to get there," Gill says. "That seemed to make it matter even more."
* "True Love" lyrics written by Vince Gill & Amy Grant.