The song “Amazing Grace” was written in Olney, England by former slave trader John Newton in 1772. It made its way across the Atlantic to South Carolina, where the lyrics were published for the first time with a melody.
Through the nineteenth century the Protestant religious song appeared in more and more hymnals and in the twentieth century it rose to become a gospel and folk standard. Judy Collins’ recording in 1970 introduced it to the massive pop music market and it climbed up the charts. More than 450 recordings made after 1970 are held in the Library of Congress and represent such diverse artists as Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Tiny Tim, Johnny Cash, Chet Baker and Destiny’s Child.