Jason Crabb and his wife, Shellye, were married 20 years ago. After two decades, they have grown a family, observed twenty Christmas Eves, developed a thriving career in Christian music, and celebrated many awards, including Grammy, Dove, and Diamond.
Jason, along with his brothers and sisters, still makes limited appearances as the Crabb Family, 22 years following their first appearance, and get together as a family as often as possible.
This artist knows that the best things in life are the things that last. Things like faith, love and family. And gatherings during one of the most holiest times of the Christian calendar.
“We really like to get together with family,” says Jason about his Christmas traditions. “It’s just family time. The perfect Christmas for me, would be to go back home to Kentucky and spend it with my family. To go to one of those little bitty Christmas plays that the kids do, in one of those little country churches that I grew up in. Watch Mary drop the baby Jesus doll in the manger scene. Those things you just never forget. You know, the main thing for me is Jesus and family during that time.”
The Crabb family has been blessed with the ability to share their love for Jesus musically, and now Jason has started flexing his songwriting muscles on his latest award-winning release, “Unexpected.” Not every song on this recording is one he has written, however.
“The best song always wins, doesn’t matter if you wrote it or whoever else,” Jason states. “But how can we get up and say ‘this is me,’ if we didn’t have any part of the creation? I didn’t think I had it in me to create it.
“So I’ve gotten wise,” Jason grins. “I’ve got people around me to help me, you know, get with writers, to get with people that are a great help to put all the pieces together of what I want to say, to glue it all together, make a great piece of artwork. Instead of one holding the brush, there’s three, and then the band comes along and there’s numerous people.
“Music is a neat art form. At least, they call it an art form.”
Jason explains, “Usually when you see a painting it’s one person. But when you hear music, it’s multiple people pulling it together, as a team, which is good or it can be bad, you know what I mean? If you give the brush to the wrong people, then you’re in trouble.”
A theme running through Jason’s songs on the album, both his own and those written by other contributors, is that of water. “The Love In Your Heart Knows The Way,” one of his accomplishments, contains liquid lyrics, like, “What would you do for a drowning man?”
Jason relates, “I wrote that song about the flood victims because they’re in Texas, they were having riots in the streets, and everyone was angry and throwing stuff. Hate was going on. Now the flood happens and some of the same people that disagreed politically or whatever, are now helping each other get into a boat to save their lives. I’m thinking, ‘Why can’t we be that everyday instead of when a tragedy happens.’”
However, sometimes the best intentioned words can be strike the wrong chord.
“We were in Texas the other day playing,” Jason recalls. “They were just telling me how they had remodeled their church (after the flood and hurricane) and suddenly every song I was going through was like, ‘Washed By The Water,” and all the water songs. The next thing I know, I’m going, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m singing all these songs about water!’”
Gerald Crabb, Jason’s father writes the passionately personal, “You Chose To Be My Friend,” that Jason calls the best “Pinterest post” of the plan of salvation. Whether the songwriting skill is passed down through nature or nurture, Jason says he’s not at the place where he can pour out his private thoughts for public consumption.
Jason explains, “I heard Michael. W. Smith say something that was so profound, about a friend of his that came to him who said, ‘I finally got to the place that I don’t care what anyone else thinks. It’s the most liberating place I’ve been.’ Michael. W. Smith goes, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be at that place.’”
The issue with writing deeply introspective songs is that the audience begins to speculate about their meaning. Jason is concerned that this speculation could go too far.
“So I think, not trying to hide anything in my life, I just don’t want to put any questions in anybody’s head,” he maintains. “Sometimes I look at songs and go, ‘I don’t know if I can do that or not.’”
The Crabb Family has sung very personal songs that Gerald wrote. “What about ‘Please Forgive Me?’” Jason continues. “That song is so real and raw. ‘I’ve Come To Take You Home,’ is a great Biblical song my dad wrote, back some time ago. ‘Come Down To Me.’ So…I haven’t got there yet. And probably will never ever write a song like that, that good.”
“The cool thing was,” he explains, “I was underneath the same roof as the man that held the pen. The thing that gets me, is I remember listening to the songs that we used to listen to that my dad would put on. And I would hear the reflections in his lyric and in the style that he writes. I know all of those reflections are there because I was there.”
It’s obvious Jason wants his songs to speak richly of how Jesus’ love can turn a life around, like Gerald’s lyrics explain.
“I love that style of music,” says Jason with a smile. “I love a story song that grabs ahold of you and takes you to that place, and paints that picture that you want to be painted. Versus, something like, ‘we’re dancing on the streets of glory…’ It’s like, wait a minute, how did I even get here. It was because God pulled me out of a ditch to make it to those streets.
“So I think, ‘Okay, what road were you on before you got to those golden streets? How did you get there?’ Because that’s the thing that I think a lot of writers are missing writing. This is where I was… but this is what God has done for me. He’s helped change me. And I’m still in the process of changing,” concludes Jason.
Sometimes, the artist feels he needs to speak out about world events.
“There’s a song that’s called ‘Love Will Have The Final Word.’ It deals with the hate that’s in the world today. It comes from one thing: The enemy. He wants to destroy, kill us, make you and I start talking differences instead of seeing the likenesses of each other. Whatever the enemy can use to push us away from each other and be bitter, frustrated, or even get to a bad point of hate or disagreement, that’s what he wants to do. But one day, he will have to bow a knee!” declares Jason.
Another thread that passes through the entirety of Jason Crabb’s music and performance, is love. You hear it in the lyrics, in his actions and speech on stage, and afterward, when he greets his fans with a hug and a perceptive word of notice. His humility and ability to relate to each one imparts significance and value.
This Christmas, Jason wishes that this love from Jesus Christ it is his privilege to share, could spread out and envelope the whole nation.
“For the country, I wish that there would be a great revival of love,” declares Jason. “I wish that the love of Jesus would just completely saturate this world. I think that it would be such a great thing. There are people that are so driven by hate.
“The Bible talks about deceivers,” Jason settles into this discussion. “What is being deceived? It’s being wrongly opinionated. How did you get (wrong opinions)? Because you were deceived. How did (we) get deceived? Because we were not following what God wants for us or we were not being led by the Spirit or led by Jesus or the love of God.
“So the people that are being deceived don’t even know they are being deceived. They think they’re right. They think that’s the truth. And the righteous think that they’re so righteous, that they are all truth.” Jason pauses, then notes, “The love of Jesus breaks self-righteousness, religion, breaks those walls down, and breaks the (deception) down.
“Jesus was crucified because of religion. Religion and also hatred towards power. Religion and power. Have we ever seen religion and power in a war with each other like now? In the day of Jesus, they came and got Jesus because they used religion, twisted it, and said he’s going to try to take your throne, he’s calling himself King, King of the Jews, King of Kings, and the only King. They twisted things. All of that is deception. Deception.
“We think we know what’s right politically, what’s right in the world today? No, we have opinions, but what’s God say about what’s right? What does he say about me that I need to fix, before I even start to judge who’s right? Because if I don’t fix myself, I’m not seeing through the right eyes to even make a great hypothesis on what is going on, in our country and in the world today,” expounds Jason.
“The only thing that I can do is what I know,” he continue. “And what I know is… It sounds to me like the very people, the very same people, who said, ‘Crucify him!’ because that’s all that they knew to do.
“So I’m wondering today if the church would have been at the crucifixion, and the world would have been there too… I wonder if we would have all yelled, ‘Crucify him!’ Which words would I have said? Release him? Or crucify him? Because of all that I know,” Jason says sadly.
He leans forward to declare with intensity: “We need a revival of love!”
“The Bible says, ‘Love thy neighbor.’ So I pray for a big spiritual revival of love, the love of Jesus. Don’t mistake me, not like a Woodstock (type of) ‘Peace, Love’… I’m talking about the love of Jesus, and loving each other. I would love to see racial tension dispelled, completely broken,” concludes Jason.
This Christmas Eve, as the Crabb family gathers together to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, Jason has another thought about what he would like to find in his Christmas stocking.
“For me personally, and my family, I would like to see…” He grins and says, “I would like to pull out of my stocking a bank statement that says, ‘Paid For,’ on everything that I owe! That would be me dancing around the Christmas tree! And I would wear that stocking! For the rest of my life!” Laughter ends this declaration.
By Lorraine Walker
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in December 2018
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