Tony Cummings remembers the five decade ministry of singer, songwriter, teacher and author JANNY
The death this year of singer/songwriter Janny Grein brought to a close a ministry ofsong and teaching which stretched back five decades and touched tensof thousands across the US and to the numerous countries she visited.
Janny was born inJoplin, Missouri. As a teenager her home life was far from happy andshe dabbled in drugs and booze. Her musical gift seemed to be anescape route and her wistful voice and elegant piano playing began tobring her more and more engagements. Janny married photographer Bill Grein andthe couple relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. There were plenty ofgigs in bars and nightclubs but Janny's sense of emptiness continued tohaunt her. Then one night in April 1973 the singer/songwriter and herhusband turned on the TV to find a Hollywood film called King Of Kingsjust beginning. Janny's website took up the story: "Janny watched with greatinterest as the story of Jesus unfolded. Her heart pounded as if itwould come through her chest. She turned to her husband and asked, 'Isthis for real? Did this man Jesus really die for our sins?' Bill, whohad grown up knowing the Lord, said, 'Yes. It's all true.' She knew inher heart that if someone would die for her, she needed to know moreabout him. That night she found new life in Jesus Christ. It foreverchanged her destiny."
Janny's conversionled to a whole new songwriting focus. Songs of faith began to pourfrom her. As she told one reporter, "All I know is what God has calledme to do, that is to minister the Word to the extent that I know it.And to be uncompromising in standing on his Word, encouraging othersto do the same. . . the medium I present it through is music."
In 1976 the singer was signed to Billy Ray Hearn's fledgling SparrowRecords, whose releases with Jesus music acts like 2nd Chapter Of Actsand Terry and John Michael Talbot were changing the face and sound ofUS Christian radio. In fact, a good sprinkling of Sparrow signingsappeared on Mrs Grein's Sparrow debut 'Free Indeed', released as by Janny (much publicity ofthe time mis-spelt her name 'Grine'). 'Free Indeed' received anenthusiastic review in Jesus music magazine Harmony who began byquoting one of Janny's lyrics. "'Hey Lord, it's me/Friendof yours in Tennessee/I want to thank you for this melody/Lord itreally set me free.' And with that introduction, Nashville's Janny Grein joins theJesus music family. Sharing in the liner notes her activity in thesecular music field prior to her conversion, 'Free Indeed' displaysthe musical experience she gained there. Janny's choice of material is excellent; allthe songs weave together beautifully. Tempos vary from the up-pacedtitle song to the quiet uplifting in 'Doesn't It Feel Good'."
It was Janny's secondSparrow release, 1977's 'Covenant Woman', which proved herbreakthrough album. The song "Bread On The Water", with its hauntingCarole King-style vibe, became a major Christian radio hit (numberseven in 1978) while the title track, though subsequently mangled bypreacher/gospel crooner Kenneth Copeland, had, in its originalrendition, a sublime acappella passage.
The following year Janny released an album that like 'CovenantWoman' is now considered a classic by Jesus music historians. 'He MadeMe Worthy' contained Christian radio hits "By His Word" and "Count ItAll Joy" and musically moved from the Janice Ian-like "Love To Me" tothe more rock orientated "Don't Give The Devil The Opportunity" allaccompanied by some of Nashville's best Christian musicians.
1979 saw another Janny album, 'Think On These Things' which,like its predecessors, was produced by Billy Ray Hearn. Yet despitecontaining one of her greatest recordings in the haunting "Praise Him"it didn't produce any major radio hits. After a 'Best Of Janny' compilation in1980 the songstress - now firmly established in ministry with teachingalongside her music - made occasional albums in between much touring.Foundation Records released 'Be Strong In The Lord' in 1981, in 1983she momentarily returned to Sparrow for 'Like The Wind' and in 1988the singer/songwriter had 'Stronger Than Before' released on MightyWind. Bill and Jannywere by now very involved in global mission and led Covenant Crusadesin Mexico, South Africa and Easter Europe. Janny authored the book Called, Appointed,Anointed (Harrison House, 1985) which dealt with the ministry of musicand worship leadership. And in October 2001 she re-recorded the song"Stronger Than Before" as a tribute to the emergency workers andothers who lost their lives or their loved ones in the terroristattacks on 11th September 2001. In the following years she releasedindependent albums, her last being 'River Rising' in 2009. Janny also took part ina Beginnings Tour with other CCM pioneers such as Barry McGuire, ChuckGirard, Don Francisco and David Meece with a DVD being released.
A year long battle with cancer finally came to an end for Janny on 4th August2011. But as her website reported, "Janny is now dancing on the streets of goldand we are rejoicing in her life and legacy. She ran her race and nowhas obtained the ultimate victory. God's presence is embracing us andsurrounding us as we celebrate her life and remember her love."
The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Tony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.
Posted by Kitty Mercer in 31642 @ 14:11 on Sep 19 2019
made several attempts to find and purchase Janny's music,she came to our church in Douglas GA. Got a
few of her cassette tapes and that was before homecomputers. Is it possible to buy CD's of her albums?
Posted by John Roose in KS @ 06:28 on May 28 2019
I experienced Jannys music and ministry for the first timein1978 or 79 at the City of Light Campmeeting where Jannygave me my first cassette of her music. Covenant Woman. Iwas addicted. For about two years all I listened to wasJanny Grein. After listening to every song she'd broughtforth up till then a hundred or more times, it never got oldand the touch of God was just as strong the hundredth timeas it was the first. Now 40+ years later, nothing haschanged. Although she's gone home, her music remains andtouches my heart and soul just like it did all those yearsago.I thank God for Jammy Grein and all the countless livesshe's touched and inspired.
Posted by John Iseghohi in Vancouver Canada @ 03:33 on May 15 2019
Great woman of faith. Met her in 1991 when she came came tominister in our church in Munich Germany. I still rememberhow she gave a Prophecy over my life. That prophecy is allcoming to pass. Just felt led to listen to some of her musictoday, only to also discover she is joined the saintstriumphant.
Janny, God bless you forever. We will never forget you. Keepresting in the bosom of the Lord.
Posted by Ginny in Minnesota @ 07:16 on Feb 19 2019
How can I obtain her CDs???
Her music still touches my heart in a powerful way, justlike it did when I first came to the Lord in â84!
Posted by Rick Stokes in New Zealand @ 20:31 on Oct 17 2018
I haven't been exposed to much of Janny's music, but I wasimpacted strongly by the song Praise Him. Whenever I couldI'd sneak it into my rack of carts to play on my radioshift, before it got taken away.
Bitter sweet feelings that I never got to meet her or hearJanny live, but I will in the main event of Eternity.
Posted by Juanita M Moore in IN @ 17:51 on Oct 2 2018
Deuteronomy 28 song, "Blessing's" encouraged me as a youngmother to trust God for provision for our flock. Eventually,He gave us 6 boys and a beautiful girl. He is true!
Posted by David Evans in Greenwood @ 18:50 on Aug 13 2018
Janny's music in the 70's when I was in Bible Collegeminister greatly to me and to so many others! Can't wait tomeet her and thank her for the ministry God brought throughher! What a great future awaits all who have trusted inChrist!
Posted by S Williams in Tulsa @ 19:56 on Oct 27 2017
What can I say that hasn't already been said about Janny??!An amazing talent. I recently dug out a 90-minute cassette Imade of her songs back in the day. Playing it right now.Thank You, Jesus!! See you there or in the air!!
Posted by Terry Altman in Detroit MI @ 15:44 on Oct 26 2017
Thanks very much. I met Janny and Bill on several occasionsin the late Seventies. It was explained to me that thespelling "Grine" was intentional, due to the correctspelling constantly being mispronounced "Green".
Posted by Myra in Australia @ 20:41 on Jul 10 2017
Only eternity now will reveal how many lives God
touched and saved through Janny's gift of music during
her life here on earth.
I know her music touched my own life in very real ways
back in the late 70's, early 80's, and was instrumental
in being strong and staying strong to remain committed
to God and to not turn back to the things of the world
again but to go forward and steadfastly continue on
Now she has gone onto glory to enter into her rest
and one day shall receive her reward.
This life is not all there is and this world is not ourhome.
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