Gospel Music: The REAL Answers

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Today has been a typical “busy” day, pretty much the norm.  My real estate goals are front and center, my family, friends bringing up a close second in the bid for my time…and poor Steve gets to chime in here and there…sometimes he texts me and says, “ANSWER the phone!!” Yes…he uses all caps just like that! The point being that I have a very busy life. I always have. I call myself the poor man’s google (I know Google is free…so I’m not sure why I call it poor man’s, LOL.) In the last 24 hours I have been asked exactly 29 questions (via social media) that related to music, 5 that related to real estate, and a couple that were so random I am not sure what they related to. I make an effort to answer questions that are rational and reasonable. And let me add that I have a lot of social media friends, real friends, that prayed my kids through a bus wreck, my sister through a horrible accident, lifted me up to God while I was having open heart surgery….and so many other things that it would take a week to list them! I LOVE you all!!! I AM convinced that social media is our new instrument for ministry and commerce (duh…that’s almost a lame statement…it’s actually a no-brainer!)…I have said all of that to say this. I am NOT in the music business anymore, even though I answer questions all day long, my phone rings incessantly for Crabb/Bowling tracks, sheet music, etc..:)  I don’t sell sound tracks. I don’t record songs. Don’t waste your pitches on me. Send them, to the kids:) But I just said I had 29 questions that related to music….and I have been gone for almost 7 years I think….so you ask: Kathy, what are you saying??? 🙂 Here it is. Since many want my thoughts, here they are. Free. No charge, no offering taken:)

WE assume the artists (soloist, groups, whatever the case may be) is a sold out Christian. Everything I am writing is with that assumption. Let’s get that straight first. This view point pertains to folks that walk their Christianity as well as talk it. These are questions that I have been asked over the years. If you are in a music ministry, hang on. This will get good. These are honest, nothing held back answers. Here goes.

Question: How did you get started?

We got started by working 300 dates a year. We worked for anything/everything and didn’t pretend to be stars when we didn’t have enough popularity to draw flies, much less a crowd. We worked radio like maniacs and we promoted a dozen songs to #1 in a short time. We had great songs, talent (and I disqualify myself from this, because I am a terrible singer, mediocre pianist) and an amazing work ethic. We sacrificed everything. I quit a great job, the kids gave up their youth, and we sold out. Period. We paid our bills, bought advertising instead of clothes, bought equipment instead of playing golf, promoted an annual event instead of going to Hawaii. And friends, this is a very abbreviated answer. Did we know that God said go? Yes. There was a divine moment….that “lightbulb” moment (I know that’s not a very spiritual expressions..ha) when I knew we could take the risk. I knew God was floating this boat. Anything short of a divine word from God? Forget it. You won’t make it. It’s too hard.

 

Question: I have a song that God gave me and I want to you to record it. Will you? I am a new songwriter and I had a dream that you all would record this song, will you?

Probably not. The Crabb Family recorded songs written by Gerald, and occasionally Aaron. We once recorded a Chris White song, but he didn’t pitch it. We knew it, liked it, asked to record it. We also cut a McGruder song, but once again he didn’t pitch it. However groups that are not known for writing their own songs would most likely listen and if they love it, you have a shot. Email or mail the demo to the artist. Make the best demo you can make. Use that little thing called “google” to find the artist’s address. You can do this. DO NOT knock on the bus and ask to come in and sing the song for them unless you know these folks well enough to have their cell number. If you are at a concert, they are changing clothes, making the dreaded set list, spanking their kids…checking their Facebook…you know all that important stuff:) Treat that “pre show” time like the 2 hours before you leave to go to work…..you know that busiest time of your day when you’re readying your household for the beginning of your day. Hmmmmm…..are you starting to understand? They love your baked goods, and more importantly they LOVE you, but they are working. Now…do they want to see friends? Of course they do. But they don’t want a songwriter that they have never met dragging a guitar, a notebook, and Aunt Velma up on that bus to sing their new song “God Is Nice” to them. Folks, it ain’t the time. 🙂 Remember the rule. If you don’t know their cell number or have never been to a restaurant with them, don’t knock on the bus door. If you truly are talented and make great demos…someone will  notice. This town is full of gifted writers that write all day long as their occupation. The key is to have common sense. That is helpful in getting the first open door.

 

Why did _______ quit? I miss _______? You all sounded better with them than you do now.

 

Are you kidding me?? We probably didn’t hire ____ thinking they were going to quit. How upset do you think that group is that ______quit, or worse yet had to be fired??If they got fired, believe me there was probably a great reason for it. TRUST these group owners/managers to know how to deal with moral failure. YES, it has to be dealt with. Do you honestly think that anyone is going to say, “Yes, that low life so and so had an affair” or “That spiritual Susie was not a sold out Christian…we got tired of dragging her out of a bar on Monday night!” The Christian thing to do is deal with the sin, adjust the business situation, and embarrass the gospel message as little as possible. Think how awful it is that this group owner is dealing with re-packaging all of that product, auditioning new people (it is so difficult to find and hire that right person) and recalibrating the storm of rumors that surround a personnel change. Lord people….I know plenty about this subject!!! When the Crabb Family quit, no one would believe that ALL was well, that there was not a BIG explosion between the kids. But guess what? There wasn’t. And guess what else? The road can kill you. Sometimes people want to go home. That’s it. Sometimes they need a “time out” because they have a bad marriage, or want to work in a church and see if that fulfills their calling. BUT WHATEVER the reason is, it’s truly none of our business unless we are paying their salary. NONE of our business!!! If we are supportive of THAT ministry…here’s what we do.

1) Support them financially, because personnel changes costs lots of money!!

2) Pray for the group that’s left behind to carry on, and pray for the departed. ALL of them need it.

3) Don’t, I repeat DON’T ask nosey rosey questions. Nobody wins and it makes you look bad.

4) Don’t tell them you liked them better with the former member. Do you want someone to tell you that your husband/wife had a hotter date before you came along? Seriously…this is how this feels. Give it a minute before you judge the outcome of the new member. Geez!!! 🙂

 

How do you believe? What is your doctrine?

We believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He has risen, the tomb is empty.

Doctrine? Jesus

Details? Bible

 

Can you tell me how to have a hit song?

 

Start by recording good songs. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Do the best record you can afford…THE best. Step two. Get it to radio. Make sure they pay attention. Market your music, yourself, your life, your world…. to them. Learn that “less is more”, and also learn to “go big or go home!” Ultimately these two phrases are the rules to live by when you are trying to “break” an artist. You must look successful (go big or go home) and make it look effortless (less is more) all…..at the same time. Oxymoron?:) Another small tidbit, it helps if you have talent. Truly, I have seen it happen without:) But I always say that talent is the small bonus, and the anointing is the BIG bonus.

Triple threat: Talent, great song, ANOINTIING! This my friend will work….unless you are lazy. If you are lazy. Stop reading now.

 

Can I get a cell number for _______?

No. I will give you their email address.

I heard you “had problems”? I’ve been praying for you.

Thanks for prayers, believe me I need them. I, like everyone have had my share of heart break. But make no mistake…there has not been a day in the last twenty something years that I have taken my eye off the ball. The day I left a secular job to devote myself to a ministry was the day the enemy declared war on my comings and goings, on my minutes, hours, and days….I know the devil hates me….I have been aware of that for a very long time. But, I am determined to run this race. Thanks for supporting me all of these years and covering me in prayer. If I don’t see you again on this earth, I will see your beautiful face over there. Thanks for being a friend.

 

How are Mike and Kelly doing?

They are doing great. They are walking, talking miracles…and people love seeing what God can do. They love hearing that it ain’t over until God says it’s over. Their best days are in front of them.

 

Are you the “real mother” of the Crabb kids?

They have been in my life for 23 years or so…I traveled every mile for the first ten years, spent 24/7 on the building and branding of the family business until they went their separate ways. We are still a family. We’re weird like that:) I spent my time, love, and energy on ALL of them. I don’t use the word “step” as a reference to a child unless forced to clarify and avoid being depicted as a liar. I love them all, and they love me. The end.

 

I bet Krystal can sing, can’t she?

 

Krystal is a very smart, beautiful, and talented girl. However, singing is not one of her talents. Sorry Krystal:) Another thing that I don’t do is encourage people in an area that they are destined to fail. Krystal is not going to sing and Kelly is not going to be a math teacher. 🙂

 

I want to start a ministry and buy a bus. Can you meet with me and give me some tips?

 

Aw Lawd have mercy!!!!! So you are saying you want to worry about making payroll, insurance, fuel, an occasional blow out, transmission replacement, ginormous bus payment, advertising, etc.. You want to miss weddings, birthdays, ballgames, school plays…possibly the birth of a child (maybe your own child) to get on a bus and sing? And remember, this is a bus you probably can’t afford, but can’t stand the bodily punishment of riding thousands of miles every week in a car…a bus that breaks down as regularly as a you cheat on your diet…a bus that is rolling all night long down an interstate with a semi 18 inches from your fluffy pillow…..a bus that has to have a CDL licensed driver that won’t drive for free (typically) and probably won’t drive cheap (why should he) and can’t DRIVE SLEEPY!! (Remind me to tell you the story about the driver I sent home from Tulsa on a Greyhound:) ) You want to take home on average less than your hired employees? Yep….this happens often. You want to put a second mortgage on your house to buy a bus….borrow from Uncle Jasper (the rich alzheimers uncle) every time you don’t make your budget, which may be 3 out of 4 weekends…depending on how much “love” is in those offerings. Because after all, you don’t have a booking agent yet. But if you could just get a booking agent, and a record company it would ALL happen. Yea boy….the good life would happen. I mean you could make Vestal and Howard proud, cause after all…EVERYONE says you are the new Goodmans. Right? Uhhhhh….wrong. It is the single hardest thing you will ever do to make this a profitable business. And we aren’t “in it” for the money….right??? Well try being “in it” if you bounce your payroll checks, don’t pay your bus payment, and do a “drive off” every time you fuel up. That Pilot will call the police, those bounced checks will get turned over to the authorities, and your bus will be repossessed. You won’t be “in” anything but the county jail. Seriously. We all MUST have money. Being broke and demonizing people who have abusiness plan will not make you more spiritual. Whoa……I am stepping all over toes. 🙂 It’s the truth anyway. It you don’t have a plan you will fail. Now if you are still reading and care enough to know, there is more to understand. Plans change…..sometimes daily. Plans must be fresh and a career is always a “moving target!!” So let’s summarize. Here is the criteria to quit your day job and buy a bus:

1) A divine order from God almighty

2) Talent

3) Amazing work ethic

4) Money to lose

 

If you are still interested, I will meet with you:) If God is truly in it, HE will provide. Where His hand leads, His provision follows. PERIOD! I will write more about this another time. I have MUCH to say.

 

I want to finish with this final question.

How does it feel to see what your family has done and know that God had a plan?

 

Words are lame sometimes. This is one of those times. I have been blessed to see them sing overlooking the city of Jerusalem, I witnessed them look into the eyes of 100,000 Muslims in Morocco and sing “I’d Rather Have Jesus”…….I cried as I watched Jason sing at the Billy Graham crusade in NYC in 2005….I’ve watched them win Dove awards countless times, perform on famous stages in front of famous people. But, I have also been there when Kelly loaded a 7 day old baby girl on a bus and put her in a bunk. She’s 14 and is still in a bunk. I’ve seen them cry tears of disappointment, and unload equipment in a thunderstorm. I have seen them so tired that they couldn’t concentrate. I am sure there are many days they wonder what life would have been without the music. For you see, these 5 kids that sing have never worked outside ministry…ever. They have paid EVERY house payment, car payment, electric bill…bought food clothes, tuition…and well, you understand my point. God has provided. They all won…in many ways. God has put ALL of them in places that only HE could place them. There is no doubt that it was HIS plan. I thank Him daily for a front row seat. And God, from His throne in Heaven looks down, sees the effort, the souls, the encouragement, the lost sleep, the human sacrifice that these kids signed up for many years ago. This “thing” we call ministry, this gypsy like existence that has very little glamour, this roller coaster financial gamble that no financial planner would sanction….this challenging life that we call gospel music that is little known in many states, but the rage in the buckle of the Bible belt….is truly like salve on the wounds of the wounded. This music convicts, reproves, and encourages.  These straight forward lyrics about the blood, the cross, redemption….are like pressing the “on” button for worship. Truly, this is the best music in the world. And, I am not ONE bit prejudiced:) Always know that this mature (old) woman loves ALL of you and appreciates every ticket you have ever purchased, every dollar you have spent at the product tables, every prayer you have prayed, and every hug you have given…for we ALL thank you and know that you  have been the game changer in a long and beautiful life. For without someone to sing to, these dreams wouldn’t have come true. Jesus gave us a reason to sing, you gave us a place to sing. Thank you!

 

AND there you have it…..stay tuned for part 2!! And now…back to selling real estate!!!! 🙂

 

Disclaimer: I have countless friends and family that sing and are household names in this business. My opinions are mine, and only mine:) However, I think some of what I have written will bring a smile. These road warriors are truly heroes, soldiers of the cross. To every Lily Isaacs, Scotty Inman, Karen Peck, Jeff Easter…. that’s riding a bus and sacrificing to keep this wonderful music alive, keep doing what you do. To all of the folks that work 40 and sing all weekend, your sacrifice is mind boggling. You will have many stars in your crown. AKA (blingy crown) :)What you do matters. You are making a difference, one song, one story at a time. I love all of you.

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4 thoughts on “Gospel Music: The REAL Answers

  1. Tracy Kennedy says:

    Wow! Loved it! Can’t wait for part 2!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angie B says:

    I can’t believe the nerve of people! Okay, that’s not true, yes I can. This is your life and the fact that people are so nosey and would ask you some of these questions floor me. I’m not naive and realize people really can be so ignorant. I wouldn’t even ask my family members such personal questions or make outright rude comments. Be a friend, pray for your brothers and sisters when needed. Pursue your own dreams, go through proper channels to do so. Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bruce Balbach says:

    2 Corinthians 9:13-14
    “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”(NIV)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carmel Rich says:

    Love you, love your posts, love The Crabb Family! Go sell some more houses!

    Like

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