David Crowder is and will always be “just happy to be here.”
The 47-year-old Christian crooner has seen success in each phase of his life in one way or another, and no matter what, he always values any victory.
His career began at church at Baylor University and seemed bleak at an early stage. But the journey has brought the author and musician three Grammy nominations; a third studio album “I Know a Ghost,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Christian music chart; and four Dove Award nominations, winning one for Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year with “Wildfire.”
Crowder says the recognition feels both welcoming and surprising at the same time.
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On Tuesday, Crowder spoke with Fox News ahead of the 50th Dove Awards — which took place in Nashville, Tenn. — about the decades-long journey he and his wife Toni have been on all in the mission of creating good music and spreading the good word.
Fox News: For people who may be unfamiliar with your story, can you talk a little bit about the work you’ve put in to get to this point?
David Crowder: “Well I kind of stumbled into this whole thing. When I got started I was at school at Baylor University and this guy started a church. Really just a bunch of college kids that were a part of this church start and since I was somewhat musically inclined, that was what they asked me to help with. They said, ‘Hey, can you help us with the music’… But man, I never would have thought that, ‘Oh, this is going to your job for a while.’ You know it’s not something you really see coming – anybody that’s had a career in music. It’s surprising when somebody sticks around in music for a good bit of time.
“But for me, that’s the whole thing is I’ve been trying to help the church sing and being a part of a community of faith, everybody comes with something that they’re put together in a specific way to aid our experience of who we know as a God in our lives and so that – my role happened to be music and so I’ve just been chasing that being the whole time and thinking surely at some point people will quit calling me and I’d get a real job or something. But it’s been awesome, I’ve loved it. It just wasn’t something – I didn’t see it coming. I was going to sell insurance for my dad and then hopefully, eventually take over the family practice. He had like an independent agency back in Texarkana where I had grown up and I thought he was the coolest dude on the planet with the best job ever and I couldn’t wait to get good at that. So this is all just outta [nowhere]. I mean, a twist in the road and I’ve been on the road for a while now.”
Fox News: You made the right call going the music route.
Crowder: “It’s like one in a million, like winning the lottery or something, you know. There’s so many people that are absolutely gifted and talented but nobody ever hears what they’re up to. So to be fortunate enough to get to do something I absolutely love, it’s awesome. I’ve been very grateful for the amount of time we’ve been at it.”
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Fox News: Can you think of a moment where something happened that altered the trajectory of your life or of your career?
Crowder: “Me doing a solo thing for now the last two, three records that I’ve done have just been solo projects and that was a huge shift from being at this church. I moved from Texas so I had been on staff at that church for about 16 years while still traveling and you know this other band – we were just the kids that were helping with the music on Sunday morning, you know and that was the extent of it. Then all of a sudden it was crewing and working the crowd to play here and there.
“So for the past five years, almost six years now in Atlanta, there’s been a whole new deal of writing songs or collaborating with a lot of people that I wasn’t able to do. We were very insular as our other band so having this opportunity, I just feel like I’ve grown like crazy in the last six years musically and as a songwriter just because I’ve been exposed to a lot of really gifted people and the people that are playing with me are… They did get into music hoping to be professional, you know. It wasn’t just a bunch of college kids banging around but I’ve just gotten to play with some incredible folks and again, [I’m] just fortunate to be… for it to feel new, you know. So often, I think you get people that are in the industry for a long time and there can be like a stillness that sets in, but it always feels like I’m learning what my job is over and over again because it feels brand new.”
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Fox News: Was there was a reason you decided to move to Atlanta as opposed to moving to a city like Nashville?
Crowder: “[Laughs] Well, Nashville was in the hunt and it was really my wife – she had gone back to school. So this had been another big life shift – she went back to school and got her design degree in interior architecture, so it wound up since she was studying in Nashville in Franklin – right outside of Nashville, just south of town and I was like, ‘Hey, I guess we’re probably gonna land in Nashville and then all of a sudden a few opportunities popped up in Atlanta and welp, there we are.
“So, I’m following her around now. Somebody in the family did get a real job and she is killing it, so that was what took us there. We had a lot of friends… our label owners, they’re based out of Atlanta rather than Nashville – they’re like a subsidiary of Capitol Records out of Nashville based in Atlanta. And they have a bunch of folks that are part of another label that’s hip-hop based, ‘116’ – like Lecrae and a bunch of my friends are there. So there is a lot of peer support that made Atlanta make sense.
“We were excited about the relationships that we already had and the people in the Atlanta area and then the church that I’m a part of there was started by the label owner Louie Giglio, who had been doing college-based stuff for a really long time and that’s how I met him. So it was like, everything made sense. it just said Atlanta.”
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Fox News: Would you call yourself a better musician or a better author?
Crowder: “The writing is a lot more tedious to me too. I love doing it but it’s a lot more tedious. Maybe it’s just me and mentally I haven’t done it every day – you know, I’m making music every day so maybe that’s just the familiarity of the thing. Man, I’ll go one sentence and rearrange it so it can take me… maybe I’m just non-committal because of the writing. Yeah, I love it and I hope to do more of that in the future because of how much I enjoy it. But you’ve got a piece of that in the craft of songwriting so I just love language and how we can learn things and agree on some stuff. [he jokes] Language is awesome that way.”
Fox News: Is there a different inspiration that motivates you to want to write a song versus wanting to write a book?
Crowder: “That’s a great [question]…. Man, the song stuff, you know there’s just so much you can say in four minutes. When I make an album, all of what I’m thinking as a musician, I get more time to say everything that’s going on in life you know. And so I’m still thinking in albums in my mind just because it’s so hard to say what you want to say in four minutes.
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“So it feels like you’re sitting across the table from somebody and you get to explore more internally and work… it’s always for me, writing the book side of things is more exploratory because you have to follow your train of thought more freely where you can kind of sit on top and it can be a little bit more ethereal when you get into songwriting because there’s an inherent poetry to it so you’re not able to fully unpack a lot of stuff which is what I love about music and songs too and poetry is you can project onto a creative piece and it might not even be the author’s intention but you know we all bring our context and experience to how we consume music and songs in a way that I think is different than pros when you’re able to read somebody’s thoughts unpacked a little more you know.”
Fox News: When you began receiving accolades, was there a moment where you realized this no longer something that was just a hobby?
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Crowder: “I think I’m always surprised in those moments. A lot of times if you’re out there working and you’re doing your deal, you’re looking at what’s right in front of you. Like, I gotta have this record turned in by this date or we’re playing tonight and what’s our day look like. So it feels rare that you look up and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, here we are.'” Like you were saying when you’re nominated for this or that you’re like, ‘Man, I guess people are into this, huh?’
“But then for me, I just put my head down and get back to work. I don’t know – for me, those moments are pretty good when people are aware of your impact. It’s pretty weird, but I’m like we gotta keep plugging, man. We gotta go.”