Joplin Globe 12/26/15

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Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2015 7:00 am

If you don’t believe all the changes that have taken place with Crawford and Co. the past 35 years, just ask Gary Crawford.

The Greatest Gift of All

The Greatest Gift of All

 

He is the only member of the Neosho-based gospel group who has been there from the beginning, and he has seen many changes, particularly in the past year.
Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2015 7:00 am

If you don’t believe all the changes that have taken place with Crawford and Co. the past 35 years, just ask Gary Crawford.

He is the only member of the Neosho-based gospel group who has been there from the beginning, and he has seen many changes, particularly in the past year.

 

Crawford may be remembered most from his singing roles with Canaan Bound, which was what the group was called up until five years ago, when a name change was requested in conjunction with signing on with a recording studio. Dennis and Charlene Bergen, from Banner Nazarene Church south of Goodman, asked Crawford to join them as the original Canaan Bound trio in 1980.

In all the changes since then, which have included going from a trio, to quartet and even a quintet with a backup band, this year may have brought the biggest transformation.

Crawford’s son, Justin, longtime vocalist with the group, left this year to attend law school. In addition, Peg Crawford, Gary’s wife, who had taken on a singing part, decided to return to her original task as booking and press agent.

That left Gary with the task of finding three other singers to keep Crawford and Co. at a full-strength quartet.

The newest members of Crawford and Co. are Chris Hymer, Gerod Hall and Gerod’s brother, Geoff.

Gerod Hall, of Seneca, sings bass. He is director of technology for the Sarcoxie School District. His brother is from Joplin and teaches sixth-grade math.

Hymer, also from Seneca, sings high tenor. He sang with another quartet for eight years before joining Crawford and Co.

Although the quartet sings at a lot of different venues, the one constant is First Friday Sing the first Friday of every month at Fairview Christian Church in Carthage.

In the nine years at Fairview Christian, the group and other invited guests, such as Duke Mason, have drawn an average of 300 to 400 people. However, one guest drew an estimated crowd of 1,000. That was Donna Douglas, who played Ellie May in “The “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Although Crawford and Co. has had a musical impact in gospel music circles, Crawford said there remains something more important.

“To me, it is all a ministry,” he said. “What is awesome about our group is that we have seen many lives changed.”

One of the biggest moments for the group came last year in Branson when Crawford and Co. was invited to take part in the first Terry Music Awards at the Baldknobbers Theater.

Earlier this year, Crawford was invited to speak and sing at a South African ministry.

“This has become a life-changing experience for my family and me as we keep in touch with friends in Africa, sending songs, Bibles and spiritual support,” he said.

Crawford said he had to find a way to translate his songs and messages into Swahili for ministers to sing as well as teach them to children.

Crawford and Co. has produced six albums that can be purchased by calling Peg Crawford at 417-529-9569.