Spend half your life doing any one thing, and at some point, you’re bound to question whether or not that one thing was the right thing. For Jason Crabb, longtime powerhouse lead vocalist for The Crabb Family, that has never been a question.
With a soulful, unforgettable voice like his, the ‘right thing’ was always a given. He was born to sing. Baptized in a God-given talent pool, weaned on the hymnal and mentored by Bill Gaither himself, Jason Crabb hit the road at age 14 and, alongside his family, has pursued his calling full-throttle ever since.
He’s performed at Carnegie Hall, become a ‘fan favorite’ at the Grand Ole Opry, appeared regularly on the Gaither Homecoming Series videos, and was honored to sing for the Rev. Billy Graham’s farewell crusade in New York City. His voice has echoed in churches great and small at home in the U.S. and around the world.
But in 2007, the Grammy nominated, 10-time Dove Award winner, felt the winds of change blow in, and he knew it was time to pursue a new path. Solo.
The eclectic, even stunning result is Jason Crabb, a 12-track collection of authentic, lyrically rich songs delivered by one of the finest voices of his generation. Certainly one of the most acclaimed voices in all of Gospel music.
Produced by Grammy Award-winning Tommy Sims (Michael W. Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Michael McDonald, Amy Grant) and Norro Wilson (Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Shania Twain), Jason Crabb showcases this one-of-a-kind vocalist in all his stylistic glory. From driving full-country tunes to R&B-infused gospel to reinterpreted southern gospel classics, the recording features cameo appearances by country music legend Vince Gill, Southern Gospel mainstay The Gaither Vocal Band and acclaimed songstress Sonya Isaacs.
Jason Crabb puts to flight the wings that grew out of his deep roots in Gospel.
“I love singing with my family,” says Jason of his journey. “So it was always good to travel with them, and they remain some of my closest friends today. We approached our music as a team, which was effective, and I am so grateful for all we did as a family, but there was always this sense of ‘I’ve got so much more in here that I want to get out of me.’”
When The Crabb Family decided to officially retire, his siblings followed their dreams, but Jason wrestled with how he could chase his own and still be accepted by the audience that knows and loves him best.
“To be real honest,” he says, “I was a nervous wreck. It was like throwing sand into the wind; I didn’t really know how it would turn out. But I just relied on the truth I’d known for many years: ‘The songs pick you. And once they do, if you just let the song be the song, you will know what to do with it. You’ll know where to take it to best connect with the audience.”
And while that can’t be said of everyone who considers himself a performing artist, it is certainly true of Jason Crabb. He’s that rare breed of artist whose best gift is his ability to interpret a lyric. To wrap his soul-patina’d voice so completely around the message that what is heard transcends the mere marriage of poetry and sound.
Continuing the tradition his father, Gerald Crabb, taught him so well — that the best lyrics are rooted in real life, where real people live — Jason’s solo debut paints with broad strokes: Authenticity. Hope. Faith. Humanness.
“It’s the path you take, the step you make that makes you who you are;
it’s the life you live, the gifts you give, the love that’s in your heart.
Just try to do the best you can to be a better man.
You don’t have to walk on water, it’s how you walk on land.”
— from “Walk on Water”
With songs like “Walk on Water” (written by Bobby O. Pinson, Trent Tomlinson, Vicky McGehee) and “Sometimes I Cry,” (written by Gerald Crabb, one of the most prolific songwriters around with 22 #1 southern Gospel hits), Jason both acknowledges and encourages hurting people, leaving something more substantive that ‘feel good entertainment.’
“People everywhere are hurting,” he says. “Their backs are against the wall. They’ve lost their jobs, their 401Ks. Big corporations are shutting down... We’re human and we stumble over everything we’re trying to be, to live up to.... ‘Sometimes I Cry’ is different from 98% of everything I’ve sung before. It’s a slow song. There’s no modulation at the end, no rousing note at the end; but the first time we did it live, people stood to their feet. They needed to hear it, to be reminded that’s it’s okay to be honest about where they are.”
“Ellsworth,” a poignant story-song about the power of love and memories co-written byNeil Thrasher, gives the collection a decidedly country feel. Featuring background vocals from the incomparable Vince Gill, “Ellsworth” is “the kind of song that sticks in your heart and reminds you how precious life is,” Jason says. “Everybody wants a love like that, and to see it in that story... well, it’s just a powerful thing.”
And that story is especially close to Jason whose wife’s grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, making it a disease with which they are all too familiar. “I knew immediately when I heard this song that I wanted to record it. I did it to honor Shellye and her grandmother specifically and hope it encourages many others.
“Somebody Like Me,” the first country single off the album, also hits close to home with Jason, who grew up as a preacher’s kid in rural Kentucky, in a church that genuinely accepted everybody. “I love the message of this song,” he says, “because too often we wait around thinking it’s somebody else’s job to love on people who are hard to love when that’s what we’re put here for. This song is a great reminder to all of us to be the one to make a difference.”
Other surprises on the debut include: the bouncing, danceable “Hope For Me Yet,” a Marc Broussard/Radney Foster/Justin Tocket ode to love, “Forever’s End” penned by Randy Goodrum (“Oh Sherry,” “You Needed Me”), reinterpretations of the Crabb Family favorite “Through The Fire,” and “Daystar,” a Cathedrals’ classic, and a worshipful ballad “I Will Love You.”
“With my every breath, I’ll make your mercy known. With every soul
on earth or all alone, I will love you, Lord, I will love you.”
— from “I Will Love You”
It was never a question in his mind. Jason Crabb was born to sing. And sing he would. Anyone who has ever heard him sing would bear witness. His gospel roots always ran deep, and he logged the miles to prove it. But this, this is different.
This is Jason Crabb, standing in his own shoes, singing the songs that make his own heart, his own voice, soar.