Natalie Grant is 'Relentless' in Her Pursuit to Do It All
By Heidi Krumenauer
CBNmusic Guest Writer
With sleeping babies a few doors down and her Dove Award-winning husband, Bernie Herms , hanging out only a few feet away, Natalie Grant tries to focus her attention for a few minutes on an interview. Focusing is easier said than done these days for this Christian music sensation who celebrated the release of her newest album, Relentless on February 12. Then on February 14, she learned about her five Dove Award nominations. Oh, and don’t forget that her twin daughters, Grace and Isabella, deserved their own shining moments, too, when they celebrated their first birthday on February 16. “Oh yeah, and Valentine’s Day was in there, too,” Natalie adds.
You could say Natalie has a lot on her mind right now!
She’s the reigning ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’…no wait, make that two years. And in just a few weeks, it could be three! As Christian music’s ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ for two years in a row, Natalie is thrilled to be honored with the nomination again. “I was nominated about seven times, and I always felt like the bridesmaid but never the bride,” Natalie laughs. “It’s always an honor, and I think it’s awesome that God’s people celebrate each other. Still, I hold the honor loosely, realizing that I’m the flavor of the moment and it will be someone else’s turn soon. I’m hoping and praying that I built my career on something more than that.”
Along with that prestigious nomination, Natalie also made the list for the Gospel Music Association’s highest honor – the Dove Award – in several additional categories: ‘Song of the Year’, ‘Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’, and ‘Special Event Album of the Year’.
But wait – there’s more!
One of the most prominent awards, ‘Artist of the Year’, hails some of the industry’s most prominent names: Casting Crowns, The Clark Sisters, Point of Grace, Skillet, tobyMac, and Chris Tomlin. And Natalie Grant! Of all her nominations, she is most shocked about that one. With a giggle of delight she says, “That just made me go what? I didn’t see that one coming at all! I am really honored because that is just the most celebrated category of the night. I think that’s the one I’m most excited about. It’s exciting to be named alongside the other names in that category.”
Yet in all her joy, Natalie says Dove Awards and record sales don’t define her, but rather affirm her personal contribution to her music ministry. “It feels great to be recognized. It’s been a long road for me…a lot of hard work…a lot of miles flown and driven….a lot of tears shed to build this career and ministry. It feels really great that some of this hard work has paid off because the road has been so hard. And I think it feels a little sweeter because of that.”
Natalie recognizes that the awards will go away as fast as they come and they will move on to someone else. “That’s just the nature of the entertainment industry. But the awards are an indication that God is doing something great with my platform, so I continue to honor Him,” she said.
And honor Him she will with her new album Relentless, which debuted on Nielsen SoundScan’s Top Christian Albums and Christian Retail charts at number two, the highest debut and top album by a female artist on both charts.
It has been nearly three years since her 2005 release of Awaken, and Natalie’s absence from the new album list hasn’t been an accident. “I’ve learned over the last few years that I don’t want to record music for music’s sake. I want to record songs that God is speaking through me and songs that matter. I felt like until I found those songs, I wasn’t going to do it. I waited the time I needed to make the album that God wanted me to put out. I feel like the songs on Relentless will be an anchor in people’s lives as they face difficult times.”
Natalie says her last album was a turning point in her life when God revealed to her that she was living a selfish life and had been driven for things that didn’t matter. As He started to open her eyes to the needs of the world – and for things so much greater than her – and gave her a desire to be a part of things that matter, Natalie said she started to become more honest and transparent. That naturally came through in her music.
“I started to open up about my flaws and my failures. I realized I didn’t have to have all the answers, and I realized I didn’t need to wrap Jesus in a nice little package with a bow on top. I can be real and honest about my insecurities and my struggles. In brokenness Jesus does his best work, and I know that because that’s what He’s done in my life.”
The tracks on Relentless reflected her authenticity, and she’s hopeful they will translate to the listener on an intimate level.
Passionately, Natalie says this might be her best work. She admits that she always knew Awaken would be hard to top because it has so many personally meaningful tracks. Critics have said this is a more complete album and they have given it stamps of approval. Natalie says that no matter what the critics are saying, she’s confident she compiled the album that God called her to do.
But even in that confidence, Natalie laughs when she’s asked how she finds time to make God the top priority in her life, honestly admitting, “I don’t. I wish I could say I do. I wish I could say every day God is the top priority of my life, but I would be so dishonest if I said that. Some days I fail and fall short. There are so many demands on my time. I have these two tiny, beautiful munchkins…and so many responsibilities in my life and in my career. I can say that when I don’t find those moments with the Lord, my life is out of balance. I get more stressed…anxious…fearful. But as soon as I spend time with the Lord, He centers me. I’m such a control freak personality that I try to keep all those plates spinning on my own and without fail they’ll come crashing down. Without Him, I couldn’t accomplish all that He has called me to do.”
As if she doesn’t already have enough on her full plate, Natalie kicked off the “Relentless Tour 2008” on March 8 for a multi-city tour this spring. And never taking a back burner is her passion for supporting victims of human trafficking. Natalie created the Home Foundation in 2005 to support various anti-trafficking efforts around the world.
It’s possible that Natalie should consider just one more thing for her already busy schedule.
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