Grant and Gill Honor Troops During 'Simply Christmas' Tour
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2003 Five-time Grammy-winning gospel and pop music star Amy Grant pays special tribute to U.S. service men and women deployed far from home through the holidays during her "Simply Christmas with Amy Grant and Vince Gill" tour.
Touring with her husband, country star Vince Gill, Grant offers a moving rendition of "Home for Christmas," one of her most popular holiday titles, according to publicist Alison Auerbach. Throughout the song, several huge on-stage screens project photographs of deployed U.S. service members sending holiday wishes to their loved ones at home.
The photographs, shot in Baghdad and aboard the USS Enterprise and the USS Peleliu by military photographers, show service members holding handmade signs with holiday greetings, as well as photographs of the husbands, wives and children they left behind.
Amy Grant and Vince Gill pay tribute to deployed service members during their holiday tour. Courtesy photo.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The photographs taken for the tour have been featured each day since early December on the DefendAmerica Web site
and will continue to run each weekday through the year's end.
During at least one of the concerts, the audience burst into a spontaneous standing ovation as the song ended with the words, "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams," according to Defense Department public affairs specialist Babs Chase, who helped coordinate DoD support for the project.
"This project has really boosted morale among the troops who participated, knowing that such popular performers would pay tribute to them in such a special way during the holiday season," Chase said.
Gill called the tour a way to thank the deployed troops and their families. "We're at war, so people's hearts are filled with missing their kids, their husbands and wives," he said. "They're over there doing what they do for freedom, so it's important for us to celebrate what's important."
Throughout the "Simply Christmas" tour, which began Nov. 28 in Nashville, Tenn., and wraps up Dec. 22 in Grand Rapids, Mich., Grant and Gill acknowledge the contributions being made by those in uniform fighting the war on terror. In many of the 19 cities visited during the tour, they donated tickets to military families.
During the Dec. 11 concert in Albany, N.Y., the couple donated 227 tickets to military families, according to a spokesman from Blanton Harrell Cook & Corzine, a Nashville public relations firm. The promoters at the event cordoned the seats reserved for the group with red, white and blue ribbons so Grant, Gill and the audience could easily identify and thank them for their contributions.