|Karen and I sat down at our kitchen table last Saturday morning with Leanna Crawford. She’s a beautiful young woman inside and out who wants to share what’s important to her through singing the songs God has given her. I turned on my tape recorder, as the mid-morning sun streamed through the kitchen window on this early fall day. Terry – Where does all the inspiration come from for your songs? Leanna – It’s hard to pinpoint where it comes from – well definitely from God of course – but the first song I really wrote called It’s You came from the Greg Laurie festival three or four years ago in Seattle. The youth group went to it and at the end of his talk he had people come down to the floor by the stage who wanted to dedicate or rededicate their lives to Christ. I didn’t go down but watched as the whole arena of people by the stage cried out to God and it was so beautiful that I began crying because it was so amazing. So when I got home I wrote this song from that experience. So my inspiration comes from other people’s stories or, for example, my song Moment by Moment came from a conversation I had with my mom. I can’t remember everything she said, but the heart of our talk had to do with living moment by moment for God every day. When I began to write about our conversation it was a very contemplative moment because I know what I’m supposed to do for God, but He knows I’m not perfect so I have to live moment by moment. Leanna then gives us each a copy of her first recorded album titled After the Fall. Karen – This was done at a recording studio, right? Leanna – Yeah, and we got to go to Nashville and record at a studio called Anchor Productions which is a Christian studio run by super nice guys. Karen – Who went with you then? Leanna – My parents and my younger sister Lindsay. Terry – Nashville is so far away. How did you hear about this studio? Leanna – Well, my mom actually found it on line and emailed them some of my songs and they replied that they’d love to support us. So for a few months we’d Skype back and forth and helped me with the arrangements. Once I got there all I had to do was sing to the music. Terry – So the music was all pre-recorded for you then. Leanna – Well first they sent me a scratch track which basically just has the rhythm of the song with only a few instruments included. So I had to sing onto that and then sent it back to them. Then we travelled to Nashville and did the actually recording in the studio. It was really cool because for a few days we got to explore Nashville and have a lot of fun. Karen – Would you ever like to live in Nashville? Her cheeks turn pink and she laughs before answering – I might. It’s really, really pretty there. I love it here in Washington but from what I saw, Nashville reminded me of Washington a little bit. When I was in the studio having fun for sixteen hours over two days, my parents and Lindsey were out exploring. Terry – What was the most surprising thing to you during your trip there? Leanna – To begin both days, while my parents and Lindsey where still at the studio, we got together and prayed over the whole process. That was really cool. So I felt that no matter what happened God would get the glory. Another surprising thing was to hear some of the completed songs for the very first time. The studio people wanted to wait until my family came back each afternoon so we could all listen to the songs for the first time together. Hearing it all together gave me chills; it was so exciting. Terry – So what comes first to you – the melody or the words? Leanna giggles while sheepishly shrugging – Kind of both. I sing a lot while I’m down outside the barn feeding horses because it takes a long time and I’m usually alone because Lindsey is inside the barn. I started bring my phone down to the barn with me so while I’m trying out new songs that come to me I could record the ones I like. Then I go up to my room and start writing. So sometimes the melody comes first and sometimes the lyrics come first. If I have a melody I really like I tell myself, ‘now I have to come up with the words’ so it works both ways. Terry – So who has been your biggest encouragers? Leanna – Definitely my own family and my church family for sure. My grandparents are both so supportive of me. The really cool thing about the radio station contest was that when I told my grandparents that my song was being played on the Christian radio station my grandpa, who is in his car a lot, would listen to that station waiting to hear my song played. My parents have always wanted all us kids to chase our dreams, for example, by letting me go to Nashville. Terry – Who has influenced you most concerning your musical style? Leanna takes a deep breath – That’s a hard one. I listen to a lot of different types of music. Of course I sing a lot of worship music during church service with the worship team. I guess contemporary Christian has had a big influence on me but then again, I like country music – well some country music. I have one song I’m working on right now that’s very much country which I feel that type of music usually tells a story. I thought it might be fun to write a country song. Terry – So who is your favorite vocalist? Leanna – To pick a favorite I so hard. Hmmm…Oh dear, I should probably know this. Terry – This isn’t a test. There’s no right or wrong answer. Leanna laughs. Well if I could sing with a group, which is a crazy thought right now, it would probably be Rascal Flats. They’re a country band who I just love. The lead singers voice is beautiful and I would think it would be really cool to sing with him. Another one is Hillsong. I just love them. Karen – Didn’t you sing one of their songs at Tami Grigg’s memorial service? Leanna – ‘Oceans’—yes. I love that song. Karen – I don’t know how you kept it together while you sang it. You did a really good job. Leanna – Thank you. That was hard. They might be my favorite and until recently I didn’t know how many songs were actually written by them that I recognized. Terry – Well, you recently won a singing contest – congratulations. Leanna blushes again. Thank you. Karen – Did you win this last radio singing contest? Leanna – No, a guy named Andrew Marcus won. He was really good and had a neat song. The concert he’ll be singing at is in two days, so in a way its okay that I didn’t win because we would only have had a week to practice and I would have been a nervous wreck. We had a longer period to practice before we opened for Jars of Clay. Terry – So tell us about that day up in Canada. Leanna – Oh, that day… It was really exciting and fun but it was also a very long day and it was hot. I don’t know if you knew it but we took a six car caravan up there. At the border we all made it through except for the Clem’s. Leanna begins to laugh. I don’t know why they stopped them; I suppose it was something random. For some reason the rest of us thought it was real funny and twenty minutes later we were giving them a bad time for getting stopped. Karen – Weren’t you nervous all day? Leanna – It was a crazy and surreal experience for sure. Karen – But you looked so calm throughout the day. I would have lost it. Leanna – I was in my own little world probably. I suppose I can keep it together on the outside but inside I was going crazy. Maybe everyone was seeing how calm I looked but thinking, “What’s wrong with her, she should be nervous.” Karen – We were all excited and nervous for you, especially your dad. He didn’t even want to sit down. Terry – So what happened when you first arrived? Leanna – We all drove up to the back gate because that is where this guy named Brad told us to do. So this other guy guarding the gate said, “Why are you here?” We told them Brad told us to go through here, so the guard had to contact him to let us through. The guy said a lot of people tell him, “Oh, we know Brad. He said it’s okay when it’s not.” Karen – Wasn’t your sound check like only five minutes? Leanna – I don’t think there was good communication between Jars of Clay and the people in charge of everything. Their equipment had been set up wrong and they were even missing their drum set so they had to find a replacement set. This was all taking a long time and it was getting later and later and we said, “Boy, it would be awesome if we could have a sound check.” She laughs. They let us up on stage long enough to sing one song and that was our sound check. Terry – So they just kicked you off the stage after one song? Leanna – No, everybody was great and it was fun. My band was amazing the whole time. Maybe because I was pretending to be calm it rubbed off on them. We all laugh. Terry – Since you’re such good friends with all the band members, tell us something spontaneous about each one. Leanna – Let’s see…well the first one is Cody. He’s from Conway and I knew him through home school, so he’s the only one in band that didn’t know the other band members. The thing I love about Cody is that he’ll make these off-the-wall comments which are really funny.
Then there is Laina Crouch. The thing I love about her is her voice. We both have a similar tone to our voice so our harmonies sound amazing together.
Davis Crouch, Laina’s older brother, usually plays bass guitar but we really needed a drummer so I asked him if he could play the drums for us. I was just assuming that since he played guitar he could also play the drums, which I later found out that he did a little bit but once he began practicing with us, he discovered that he really loved it.
Then there’s Amanda Rice. I got to know her the past two years being on the worship band together and I love her to death. I asked her to be my piano/keyboard player because she’s absolutely amazing at it. She has always been so encouraging to me with anything I do and is so sweet and kind.
Our guitarist is Spencer Clem. He awesome and has a type A personality and is very organized, which we needed because I’m definitely not. So I asked him if he could help me and he helped make everything flow smoothly.
Last but not least is my little sister Lindsay. I really wanted her to play the harp in Canada but the people up there said it would take too long to set up.
Karen – What do you mean that it would take to long? Leanna – I guess it takes a long time to mic up a harp so it sounds just right. So we had her play the midi, which is an attachment to the keyboard. So she would play the big sound to compliment what Amanda was playing and had fun doing that. Lindsay and I are sixteen months apart in age and we’re best friends and do everything together. Terry – What’s been your biggest obstacle to overcome so far in your young singing career? Leanna – It had to be the time we were preparing for the concert up in Canada in July. I was stressing out because none of us in the band had ever done this before. I was trying to lead our band and I didn’t know how to lead a band. I can sing and talk in front of a crowd but at first it was awkward having to tell my band what I wanted to do. Finally I was so nervous I prayed and turned everything over to Him. Right after praying, it was amazing because it became fun again and I told my band that I didn’t know what I was doing but let’s just have fun and glorify God in this. To be honest God knew I wasn’t ready but He surrounded me with the right people and helped me through it. Terry – Okay…final question. What do you see yourself doing five or six years from now? Leanna – I’m thinking I really want to make singing into a career. Of course easier said than done. To make it in this business you almost have to have a type A personality and I’m more laid back. So I might need someone to help me. Karen – Like an agent or a manager? Leanna – Yeah, I guess one or the other. I think each one is different but I don’t really understand it all. I just need to be more of a go-getter. Karen – God made you with your personality and I like the one he gave you. Leanna blushes. They love you at Spirit 106.5 and would talk about you all the time on the radio. Leanna – Everyone there was so sweet and encouraging and made it fun. We closed our interview by praying for Leanna and then Karen looked at my tape recorder and asked, “Are you sure it’s recording?” My heart almost stopped but Leanna laughed and said, “Hey, we could start over; this has been fun.