It’s not even spring yet, but multi-platinum recording artists Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant have already experienced one of their highlights for 2011: touring alongside each other as longtime friends and creative partners. The pair’s recently-wrapped run of shows called the “2 Friends Tour” brought back a flood of memories not only for fans, but for the performers as well.

“Touring with Amy was absolutely awesome,” Smith says. “Our friendship runs deep and my respect for her as an artist has always been off the chart. But to see her every night – the way she performs and communicates and connects with the crowd – it’s just amazing.”

“I loved standing beside Michael every night,” Grant adds. “I loved watching his amazing, God-given gifts. His smile is as familiar as my childhood and I have missed seeing it close up, standing shoulder to shoulder. I loved singing with him as he brought each crowd into worship. He is someone I trust and I’m never wary about going somewhere he wants to go creatively or spiritually.”

Grant and Smith split the “2 Friends” evening, each performing complete sets of their own material, but also came together for songs they wrote together or are deeply associated with, such as the show-opening “Stay For Awhile” from Grant’s 1986 The Collection compilation, the seminal anthem “Lead Me On” and Smith’s signature breakthrough hit “Friends.” That interplay, combined with the timelessness of each artist’s song list, made for a concert experience The Grand Rapids Press called “a three-hour trip down memory lane, with songs triggering thoughts of times well spent with faithful friends.” The Orange Country Register noted “Smith and Grant blended their voices perfectly, a satisfying touch that would return throughout the show…A fast-paced mix of material that pleased the capacity crowd.”

The tour generated double-digit sold-out shows, including Rocklin, Calif; Anaheim, Calif.; Redlands, Calif.; Phoenix; Holland, Mich.; Omaha, Neb.; Franklin, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; New York City and Lancaster, Pa. The response was so overwhelming, Grant and Smith have agreed to do what many fans unable to see the show this go-round hoped they would do: they’re taking it back out this fall.

“I don’t think we were out of rehearsals before we were talking about going back out in the fall!” Smith says. “Thankfully, people showed up – there were a lot of sold-out nights and we’re going to do it again this fall.  I can’t wait!”

“I loved every aspect of this tour – the music, the bands, the camaraderie, the joy and the crowds,” Grant says. “It was a real gift and I’m excited to do it again next fall.”

That’s not to say these two busy artists are looking past the spring and summer, which are already packed. Smith will head out on a 20-25 date spring tour in support of Wonder (more details forthcoming) before embarking on an active schedule of summer appearances at major festivals around the country. Grant will be spending time at home this spring, writing and recording material for a new album. She will perform several charity events and concerts throughout the summer, and will be featured nationally at several Women of Faith events in the coming months.

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