The Odd Man Out
- Monday, September 29, 2003
When a person attends a Christian college, chances are his or her roommate will be that nice, wholesome Christian type who could be approached for support, advice and even accountability as a fellow believer.
But keeping with the pattern of singer/songwriter/guitarist David Crowder’s life, he ended up as the oddball who got stuck with a roommate who was the polar opposite — a non-Christian who partied and abused drugs. “I remember one weekend my roommate and a little clan of friends were on their way to Galveston, and they wound up getting arrested for having lots of drugs,” recalls the spiky-haired, goatee-bearing singer of his former roomie’s behavior. “Let’s just say we didn’t exactly have a lot in common other than the music we listened to.”
However, they did share that one mutual interest — a love of Dave Matthews Band, a topic that often served as the springboard for conversation. “He was from Charlottesville, Va., the same town where DMB was from, so he really turned me on to [the band],” reminisces Crowder. “As much as I got into them, I wanted something from a Christian standpoint to give my roommate at least a bit more of a message, but I always had such a hard time finding the right kind of project.”
And when Crowder picked up a CD from his local Christian bookstore for his roommate to listen to, his roommate’s reception wasn’t exactly what Crowder was hoping for. “I don’t even know who I was playing in the dorm that day, but I remember him coming into the room with a cigarette and staring at the stereo for a second,” Crowder confesses. “He obviously didn’t like what he heard because a sea of expletives started spewing from his mouth about how terrible the band was, and he walked out of the room in a cloud of smoke.”
As much as the incident troubled Crowder, deep down he couldn’t blame the guy for rejecting a song that, musically, didn’t have an impact on him. And as a result of this experience, Crowder picked up a guitar and notepad to log the thoughts he hoped someday would have an impact on those, like his roommate, whom the church wasn’t reaching. “It was at that light-bulb moment that I made a choice to make music that would have stood out to a guy like my roommate,” explains Crowder. “I almost started writing songs out of necessity at that point, wanting to be an outlet for those who weren’t able to embrace Christian music.”
And it wasn’t long after college graduation that Crowder and the eponymously titled band he formed shortly thereafter were onstage leading worship at a local church. The service, with songs penned by Crowder, had been specifically targeted to those who hadn’t grown up with a traditional religious upbringing. Unlike the dorm listening session gone awry, this audience apparently related to the Crowder Band’s vibe, swelling in size as the weeks and months passed, subsequently expanding the front man’s platform.
Such a solid, local response also led to other opportunities, like D.C./L.A. events, Youth Specialties Conventions and participation in the college-friendly Passion movement led by revered speaker Louie Giglio. “We cut an indie CD right around that time at church, and I was so excited to present that to Louie after having so much respect for him,” says Crowder. “I shared with him how passionate the church was over the songs and, quite naively, how they could possibly change the world. But he taught me a very humbling lesson. ‘David,’ he told me, ‘These songs aren’t your songs. They are from God, and they are the church's. Carry them with responsibility.’”
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