Crowder Comes to Valley Forge

by Jessiah Hulle - University Communications | Nov 02, 2016
Crowder Concert
Creation Concerts brought Grammy-nominated artist Crowder to the University of Valley Forge (UVF) on Oct. 28, 2016, along with openers The New Respects and Tedashii. The highly-anticipated concert was attended by more than one thousand people, including many UVF students and alumni. The show was a phenomenal representation of both new and longstanding talent in the Christian music scene, with a remarkable musical diversity ranging from the 80s-esque soul/pop-rock opening act to the hip-hop middle act to the contemporary Christian music (CCM) folktronica headliner.
The young quartet that comprises The New Respects was started by three siblings, Darius, Alexandria, and Alexis Fitzgerald, with their cousin and lead singer Jasmine Mullen. The rock 'n' roll band from Nashville, Tennessee, played a six-song set off of their upcoming untitled album, that included their recent single “Trouble,” which was a feature in a commercial for the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Tedashii, a rapper from the southern Christian hip hop group 116 Clique, took the stage solo along with his DJ and a drummer to flashing red lights and a heavy hip-hop beat, proclaiming his mission to “keep the main thing the main thing … it’s Jesus Christ all day, every day.” Tedashii’s 10-song set ranged in style and intensity. At times he was vulnerable, sharing about the loss of his one-year-old son, his mother-in-law, and a close friend in the past three years. But he also didn’t shy away from hyping the crowd, sampling Queen’s seminal hit “We Will Rock You” and covering KB’s “I Believe.”
Tedashii’s performance was followed by a quick presentation and video by CURE International, a non-profit charity partner of Crowder’s American Prodigal tour. CURE International provides free surgeries for children with disabilities in third-world nations. Their mission “Heal the sick, proclaim the kingdom” illustrates their dedication to not only helping kids with physical debilitation, but also to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to all whom they reach with medical aid.
Crowder took the stage next to much fanfare, opening with the explosive “Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner” and his hit singles “Run Devil Run” and “I Am.” The diverse instrumentation of Crowder’s songs was highlighted by his stage performance. Within the first three songs he opened with a piano piece, then switched to an electric guitar and then to a banjo, the latter an instrument he at one time refused to use in his music to avoid being labeled a stereotypical folk artist. From song to song his style would change from folk to CCM worship to rock to electronica to even a little metal, with a guest soul feature by the New Respects on his song “All My Hope” and a guest rap feature by Tedashii on his song “Promised Land.”
Crowder’s tone switched from upbeat folktronica rock to passionate worship halfway through his set list. By the time Crowder led “How He Loves,” a hit single from his time as lead singer of the David Crowder Band in 2009, the crowd was singing along so loudly that he sat back and let the audience take over the lyrics. Never sacrificing innovation for spirituality, Crowder next led worship with his Grammy-nominated “Come As You Are” with music performances on the cajon, violin, banjo, accordion and acoustic guitar.
Playing UVF seemed very comfortable for Crowder; he is used to the Christian college scene, having started his music career alongside his friend Tedashii while they were both students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in the 90s. He was also very receptive to his fans, calling up two young fans with hand-painted Crowder t-shirts on stage and even playing a spontaneous cover song request from a sign-bearing group of fans in the audience which led to another crowd sing-along. UVF junior Jordan Parker said of the show, “I really enjoyed his sarcasm and his humor and the way he connected and interacted with the audience.”
The show was a blessed and fun time for those who attended, irrelevant of age. Around the middle of his performance, Crowder summed up his show with a reference to the movie Back to the Future. “You know when Marty McFly plays the Chuck Berry song … and says to them, 'don’t worry, your kids are going to love it'?" Crowder asked the audience. He smiled, adjusting the cigar box guitar around his neck, and said, “Well, I’m sorry kids but your parents love this.”