Biography is currently being developed in concert with Amy's new CD
"The God of All Hope"
Thank you for your patience
|A FEW FACTS ABOUT GARY AND AMY
From Gary's perspective
I was born in Iron Mountain and raised in the heart of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. life was sheltered due to living in such a remote area of the country with very little outside intervention. I lived in a one tv channel union town. Iron ore mining was the world we lived in, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather were the sole sources of information about the outside world. Life in my world was harsh and void of grace.
As a child I understood that I needed a Savior, at 8 the seed was planted but it seemed to be hindered by how well I performed. Through my growing years I found that being as sinless as possible and pleasing others at any cost showed that I was a good person which to me was synonymous with being a Christian. This ended up causing more shame and brokeness and less love due to the legalistic restraints I and others had placed on my life.
I never went without food or clothing but during my school years my family had little left after the groceries were paid for. We did travel a few times to see relatives. When I was 12 one of these trips was to Indiana to see my cousins in Upland. I had recalled meeting my uncle Tom Beers and his family only once before. We visited the Beers again when I was 16 for a family reunion . My memories of those visits are vauge but in retrospect very important to the development of who I am today and my walk with Jesus.
I attended Northern Michigan University for a semester but left knowing I was in the wrong place. I worked at my fathers business for a year. I was not happy. I knew I needed to have an education. I remembered my cousins and a university I knew nothing about. I made the decision to apply at Taylor because of Toms influence who was the Dean of Students at the time. My first experience at Taylor was the January term. My orientation was conducted by Walt and Mary Campbell at their house. I thought, wow if everyone in Upland was like the Campbells this was paradise. I walked around campus in shock. I could not believe how blessed I was getting this opportunity. I immediately realized I was in a speciaI place. I understand that to many from Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and other cities Upland must have felt like a cornfield but to me me it was the center of the universe.
I think most of the other students understood that I was a bit behind the times. I was not very trendy, my car was 10 years old and in bad shape. Many students would ask me what country I was from thinking I was a foreign student. It was hard to be different. I understood my social position and I was satisfied in knowing that I would continue to learn and grow and hopefully connect with my classmates. But what I did not know is how the speakers in Chapel, my hall director Tim Herrmann, my baseball coach Larry Winterholter, Walt Campbell, Tom and Helen Beers, my teammate and longtime friend Clark Hewitt and many others would be used by God to help me understand that there was nothing I could ever do to deserve Gods grace. I was behind the times spiritually and at Taylor I was afforded the time and experience to grow. I still made many mistakes and I knew that my humaness was enough to keep me eternally away from relationship with God. But, now I knew I had nothing to offer and could do nothing to deserve His love and grace towards me. This was a relief and a comfort. Now I knew that Gods outpouring of his grace was an expression of his love towards me.
My last class at Taylor was a January Term class called CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) led by Lowell Haines. We took a trip to Nashville to meet several people in the music industry. I had dabbled in music throughout college but after Lowells class I thought God was leading me to Nashville to pursue a music career.
In March of 1986 I packed my little green Valiant and drove to Nashville with $200.00 in my pocket. Finding a job and getting along was not a problem but there was no time to pursue my love of music. During the Spring of 1987 I was in Upland visiting the Beers. At their home I was reintroduced to a girl I knew a couple of years earlier. Her name was Kelly Jewell. Kelly was a beautiful and kind person and I wanted to get to know her better. For two weeks we talked from a distance and I was enjoying her company. Then on a beautiful Spring afternoon I received a call from Professor Bob Freeze from Taylor who was aware of my friendship with Kelly. Kelly had suffered a tragic death and I was in shock. I could not believe what I was hearing. Life had not been easy in Nashville, I was lonely, my direction was scattered, I felt I was going nowhere, and now Kellys death, this was too much for me to bear. I decided to leave for a season and go back to Michigan to collect my thoughts. Graciously and providentially, my last night in Nashville, two close friends persuaded me to go out to dinner.
Born in Merritt Island Florida Amy experienced, first hand, Americas space program. From the bleachers, she watched the space shuttles lift into space. Much of her time was spent on the Gold Coast beaches. Amys family was entrenched in politics and after her fathers appointment as General council for the Secretary of State Amy, 11 years of age, and her family moved to Floridas capitol.
Although Amy missed the coast and her friends, she thrived in Tallahassee. She attended First Baptist Church where she was a part of a strong group of believers who were supportive, encouraging, and accountable to each other. In highschool she was involved in theater, cheer leading, tennis, and in 1981 competed and won the title of Miss Teen Florida. With all of the activity in her life she managed to have room for one other very unique talent. Amy played the harp.
Music had always been important to Amy and she loved to perform as a young child. After arriving in Tallahassee Amy was introduced to the harp and continued to practice and learn the instrument. She also loved to compose music and lyrics. After high school Amy left for the wind and snow of greater Chicago and attended Wheaton College where she majored in music. With no coat to speak of and finding that open toe high heels did not work well in January. Amys friends took a proactive approach and educated her on the essentials of Northern living. A shopping trip garnered a ski jacket and some boots. Still, Amy was not very warm, but she was alive.
During her car trips between Wheaton and Tallahassee Amy would stop in Nashville and pursue co-writing relationships with individuals and publishers. Upon graduation Amy moved to Nashville February of 1986 with the intent of writing music for the publishing contacts she had developed. What happened next was truly out of the ordinary.
Neil Joseph from Word records suggested that Amy write a couple of harp instrumentals to present to him because Word was embarking on an instrumental series to compete with Windham Hill. At this time Amy had just purchase a new electric Salvi harp. The first electric harp ever made. An engineer, Keith Compton, from Sparrow wanted to record the electric harp because he thought it would be interesting. Amy used the new songs she had written for Neil to be used on Keiths demo. Later Keith played the demo for a budding producer. Knowing they had a potential record for Sparrows Meadowlark series, they immediately sent it to Billy Ray Hearn, the head of Sparrow at the time. Sparrow made an offer the next day to Amy for the record. Neil Joseph encouraged her to sign with Sparrow and Wes Yoder acted as Amys advocate negotiating the details of the contract.
In the matter of 3 months Amy moved to Nashville, was under contract, and was writing for her first record. One year later she was distributed worldwide by Capitol Records.In the Spring of 1987 Amy and a friend headed out to a trendy grill off of Whitebridge Road.
GARY MEETS AMY
That Spring, while sitting at Dalts Grill during my last evening in Nashville I was low. I felt the relief of leaving town for a spell but was sad and discouraged. One of my friends, Michelle Wagner, was a very special person who was also a writer and singer. My other friend Seung Lee decided to go with me to Michigan. While talking before our meal two young women walked up to our table. They were friends of Michelles. One stood behind me as they talked. I did not know who she was, I didnt really see her very well but I can only say that it was God who told me that my wife was present. I went numb and did not say a word. I was leaving in the morning. What could I say to her. I was broken, she acted as if she was on top of the world, and in a way, she was. I managed to say hello and ask her name and then she was gone.
Amy Shreve... I knew she had this instrumental record and that was all. During the four months away I managed to learn that she was from Wheaton College. Unbeleivably, the alumni office at Wheaton gave me her current address and telephone number.
September 1987 I finally made the decision to call her. I chose a Monday evening. Amy , not remembering, who I was, was not interested in talking and struggled to end the call. Well, what I lack in pin ache I make up for in persistence. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I made calls which were ended in a similar fashion. Friday I tried to regroup and re-plan my strategy. On Saturday, I realized I had no other strategy so I decided I would begin to call her again. I mean, I thought I heard Gods voice the previous Spring. That night Michelle Wagner was having a get together at her apartment and I was invited. I thought now I have something to ask her to so... one more call. well Amy was invited to he same gathering and she quickly ended the call. Somewhere between her apartment and Michelles home Amy realized that I was the guy she met at Dalts Four months earlier. Surprisingly she did not call the police to have them waiting for me at Michelles door! We talked for hours at the party and have been together ever since. Amy and I are committed to each other and to this day are very much still in love.
MUSIC MINISTRY AND LIFE ON THE ROAD
Being signed as a Sparrow artist so quickly was an encouragement to Amy. She was new to Nashville and seemed to be making quite a mark. But, two years after her contract, Sparrow started to change direction. Amys second record was cancelled along with the whole label and the Meadowlark series was sold to a German company called Delta Music. Amy was not sure which direction to go with her music. Knowing how well she communicated with people, and how she wanted to serve God, I suggested she take her art and talent to the church. After a few trial bookings Amy was convinced this was her calling. We recorded her first vocal/harp record called I am His and He is Mine in 1991. I also began to book concerts in Michigan and Wisconsin that Spring and Summer by August we were a year in advanced bookings. We made a bold step and leased out our home in Nashville. Little did we know at the time we not come home for four long years . We traveled the USA and Canada circling North America a half dozen times. During that time we recorded three more CDs Christmas 1993 and Harp and Willow 1995 independantly and Solo Harp 1992 for Benson Records. Living on the road took its toll and in 1995 we tried to encourage our tenants to rent somewhere else. Instead they asked to buy our home. We sold and moved near downtown Nashville in the Vanderbilt area. Shortly after the move in 1996 we signed a distribution contract with Light distribution for our label, Wix Records. We subsequently released the CDs Christmas and Harp and Willow into the CBA marketplace. Sales went well and we were working on Haven 1998 to add to the label. In 1997 Light began to have trouble and became the target of lawsuits after their parent company Platinum Entertainment from Chicago made some bad business moves shortly after becoming a publicly traded company. Their best prospect Sixpence None the Richer was in disarray unhappy about their future at Light and the whole company imploded. Once again we were left without the means to distribute Amys CDs into the marketplace. We released the single and title track called Haven to radio. Haven charted in CCMs radio top 30. But we were running out of energy.
We did not know the kind of changes that were about to take place in the next 5 years. We were about to enter a new and painful season of life. By 2002 Amy had lost every member of her family except for her father. Two years earlier we had our first child, Elise on November 30, 2000. Earlier that year on March 1st Amy buried her mother in Tallahassee, FL after a long struggle with sickness. Eight weeks later we found out we would be parents with our first and only child. Amys mother Alice would never know that Amy, her own child, would be a mother. Amys grief over her Alices death was accentuated by the fact that her mother would never hold her only grandchild. Four weeks after Elises birth I fell from the roof of my home and ended up in traction for two and a half months. These were the most trying times of our married life. Amy could not keep up with the demands of a one month old baby and incapacitated husband and the ongoing grieving for her mother. Physically and emotionally we fell apart but we survived by the grace of God through our friends and churches across the country who cared for us. We were not sure we could continue traveling and performing at churches and colleges around the country.
In 2002 Amy finished Whisper a record that contained several songs and references of the grief she was going through. Songs about mourning, heaven, and the fact that we are strangers on this earth. She was crying out to God for hope in the midst of her anguish. Until the fall of 2008 we were never sure whether we should continue in ministry or move on into a new area of life. The struggle was always the difficulty of life on the road verses feeling that God was not finished working in our lives through music ministry. Yet, In 2003 we began a relationship with the Voice Of The Martyrs which continues today. Recording two records for their ministry and leading worship at their conferences. Amy and I have been blessed to rub shoulders with many who have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ around the world. Their stories have encouraged us and motivated us towards prayer for them and their tormentors. Last Summer 2008, Amy and I felt that we should invest more time and effort into our music ministry even though logic, and our friends, insisted it was time for a permanent change.
NEW RECORD AND RELATIONSHIP
Shortly afterwards in September we received a phone call from Dee Brestin, a friend who had authored several books and has sold millions of copies. Her daughter Sally, a Taylor alumnus, was a sweet friend and we performed with Dee at a few womens conferences in the past. Dee had an interesting proposition. She wanted Amys music to be included in a study guide she was working on for Zondervan. We loved Dee and we loved the idea of being connected with her. Dee was writing a new book called The God of All Comfort a book based on the grieving she experienced after her husband Steve died of cancer in 2004. There would be a study guide that would go along as a companion to the book. I knew Amy was the right artist for many reasons. She truly has a gift of compassion and sensitivity towards those who are in pain and her music soothes the disheartened. In February 2009 Zondervan contracted (although the agreement took until June to get signed) Amy to provide a 10 song CD for the study guide. Within a month we had two offers for a 16 song version of The God of All Comfort CD that would once again be distributed. We chose Discovery House Music. Not only are they a record company but they are heavily involved in ministry through th Radio Bible Class and produce Our daily Bread. We had the opportunity to be distributed through Word and we appreciated their interest. We would have loved to have partnered with them. Yet we are thrilled to be with a company and ministry in Discovery House and RBC that puts a premium not just on the music they release but the character of their artists as well as the depth of the music. Our new record The God of All Comfort, 16 songs, will be released in August to the retail stores. Dees book by the same title will also be released in August. And, Dees study guide with Amys 10 song CD version will be released in January 2010.
© 2016 Wix Music Group, Inc./Audio Abbey Records/Amy Shreve
For more information (615) 364-6161