This beautiful, timeless song has so many interpretations, we never tire of it. Listen to these heartfelt versions, sung by stars like Whitney Houston, Alan Jackson, and the Harlem Gospel Choir.
“Amazing Grace” is one of those few special songs that seems to move everyone, regardless of color, class, or creed. First published in 1779 with words by poet and clergyman John Newton, the Christian hymn still feels fresh today. In fact, just last week, Randy Travis reminded the world of its power, giving a beautiful performance of “Amazing Grace” after his stroke.
Perhaps “Amazing Grace” resonates with so many people because it’s so sincere, while still being honest and relatable. Before Newton became a clergyman, he was a candid atheist and slave trader. Sure, you’ve probably never owned a slave, but haven’t all of us done something we’ve regretted? Something that, at some point in our lives, almost seemed unforgivable? It took riding out into a brutal storm for Newton to find God. After that, he knew he couldn’t go back to living the life he had lived, so he converted to Christianity and became an outspoken abolitionist: “I once was lost/but now am found/Was blind, but now I see.”
You’ve probably heard “Amazing Grace” every which way—from a cappella soloists and church choirs, with and without bagpipes, with and without banjo, with and without piano. But it almost doesn’t matter; the song is that strong. Centuries later, how sweet the sound indeed!
Here are our 10 favorite renditions of “Amazing Grace,” from singers past and present, not including the wonderful Randy Travis (though this roundup was inspired by him). Get the Kleenex ready!
Whitney Houston had a voice that made you want to move but rendered you still at the same time. You can just feel the emotion in this consecutive Billboard Hot 100 artist’s performance! The saxophone in this rendition perfectly complement’s Houston soulful presence.
Chloe Paige wowed judges with her performance of “Amazing Grace” on The X Factor, and even moved herself to tears by the end of the song. Simon Cowell, who applauded her for “singing her heart out,” was slightly off when he called her a “brave girl” for choosing this particularly powerful ballad to compete for her spot on the show. With a voice like that, Paige is a brave woman.
This performance by the all-female Irish music ensemble Celtic Woman will make all of your Celtic princess fantasies come true. (Or did we just watch Disney’s Brave one too many times?) The opening solo performance is amazing, but the ensemble truly shines when they join their voices.
This Motown and Disco queen never fails to impress! The orchestra is such a sweet accompaniment to Diana Ross’s angelic voice. Decades after The Supremes catapulted to fame and the Disco era ended, Ross still has it.
Unless you love Italian and Spanish-language music, you may not have heard of Il Divo before, but this multinational male quartet will give you goosebumps all the same. Listen to them give “Amazing Grace” the classical crossover treatment.
Give it up for Alan Jackson and his distinctly Nashville interpretation of the hymn. So pop country, and still so right!
Harlem Gospel Choir
We couldn’t do an “Amazing Grace” round-up without a true Gospel pick! We love this version by the indelible Harlem Gospel Choir out of New York City. The emotion is palpable.
Eisuke Mochizuki (piano) and Ayako Ishikawa (violin)
Want proof that “Amazing Grace” is just as meaningful without the words? This instrumental version featuring Japanese musicians Ayako Ishikawa on violin and Eisuke Mochizuki on piano is enough to convert you to a classical music lover.
Mumford & Sons with guests
Get down with this hymn the Bluegrass way! Here’s Mumford & Sons’ 2011 Bonnaroo tribute with members of Apache Relay, Cadillac Sky, and Old Crow Medicine Show.
And now the closer: Andrea Bocelli’s most celestial performance of “Amazing Grace.” May it make your heart soar!
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