Jason Crabb is a Grammy award-winning artist and the recipient of 20 Dove Awards, distributed by the Gospel Music Association. He’s performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. He’s got a book series in the works and soon will make his big-screen debut. But the person who is possibly most surprised by the wild success of a small-town kid from Kentucky is Crabb himself.
“I’m the least likely person to be doing what I’m doing right now,” says the 35-year-old vocalist who now lives outside of Nashville with his wife and two daughters, Ashleigh, 9, and Emmaleigh, 6. Crabb currently is in the midst of a mini-tour on the heels of his latest accolades, Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2012 Dove Awards. He’s done shows in North Carolina and Alabama and, on Sunday, will come to Frederick to headline the seventh annual Frederick Family Festival at the International Community Church.
“He has the heart for it,” says Dave Eichelberger, facilities director at the church and one of the festival’s organizers. “He’s great with folks of all ages; everyone just seems to love him, so we enjoy having him here.”
The Family Festival kicks off Sunday morning when Crabb, the son of a preacher or a “PK” (preacher’s kid) as he calls it leads the morning services. The rest of the day’s events include food vendors; a car, truck and bike show; inflatables for the kids and a fireworks display. Then Crabb hits the stage for his evening performance.
For someone whose love of music is so deeply rooted in family and faith, the festival seems the perfect place for Crabb to entertain.
Born in Beaver Dam, Ky., Crabb says music was a major part of his life from a very young age.
“I grew up in a small country town and there wasn’t a whole lot to do,” he says. “The exciting times were when we’d go for drives and listen to music.”
Crabb and his siblings got their start singing in their father’s church.
“If someone didn’t show up to play an instrument, we were the ones who filled in,” he says.
Soon, the family was traveling from church to church singing as the “Crabb Family Band.” By the age of 14, Crabb was singing lead vocals. In 2007, he branched off on his own and in 2010, his self-titled debut album won the Grammy for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Album.
“I feel like I’m living out my dream every day,” Crabb says. “And there’s just nothing in the world like that.”
Crabb is known for his soulful southern gospel sound, infused with a touch of country. But it’s the message of his music that Crabb is most proud of and what he hopes resonates with audiences everywhere.
“You just gotta go on and live out and fulfill and go after your wildest dreams,” he says. Crabb credits his success with a combination of determination and his faith in God.
Eichelberger hopes this is the notion congregants and audience members walk away with after Sunday’s show.
“It’s a message that everyone needs to hear right now,” says Eichelberger. “People seem to want to give up, and when you’ve got someone who can bring a positive message like he does, I think that’s good for them to hear.”
Now, Crabb’s inspiring new and younger audiences with a couple of upcoming projects. First up, he’s working on a children’s book series about a crab named “Jase,” a childhood nickname of Crabb’s. The series will follow Jase as he takes journeys through biblical stories.
Crabb also stars as himself in the upcoming film “Inspiration POP 2929,” based on Tim Enochs’ book, “The Street Sweeper.”
“I got to be an inspiration to a young kid,” says Crabb of his role in the movie. “And, again, I get to tell him to go after his dreams. That seems to be the theme of my life right now.”