CHRISTMAS CONCERT HONORS MEMORY OF DR. JOEY CRUTCHER’S SON
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Famer Joey Crutcher is well-known for presenting his annual Christmas gospel concerts in conjunction with the Hall, something he’s been doing since the very beginnings of the non-profit organization back in the early ‘90s.
This year’s show, however, will be especially poignant. Dr. Crutcher is dedicating the event to the memory of his oldest son, Joey LaRon Crutcher, who lost his battle with cancer on November 29.
“He worked with me all the time,” says Dr. Crutcher. “In fact, he’s been with me ever since he was a little boy. He started playing drums then, but his passion was the keyboard. He played percussion, organ, piano, and he did a lot of producing and writing. So Jason [McIntosh, Jazz Hall CEO] and I talked about it, and we just decided to dedicate the whole night to my son.”
Many of the musicians and vocalists set to perform Sunday afternoon were also a part of Joey L. Crutcher’s funeral service, including vocalist Tony Mason.
“Tony Mason was the praise and worship leader for a long time at the Greenwood Christian Center, a big church my son played for,” Dr. Crutcher says. “He’s a praise and worship specialist who’s done a lot of professional singing, and he did praise and worship at my son’s service. He’ll be at the gospel show with a group, Tony Mason and Company.”
Others scheduled to appear during the concert include Christian rap artist Mario Johnson, the Heralds of Praise from Tulsa’s New Heights Christian Center, and two veteran musicians, saxophonist Chris Clayton and multi-instrumentalist Leon Rollerson.
“Chris was one of the original members of the GAP Band, and he was a classmate of mine. We both graduated from Washington Senior High School, class of ’66. Leon called me and said, `Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it.’ So he’s going to be there, too.”
Of course, a Crutcher show wouldn’t be complete without representation from the Tulsa chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, a group founded in 1967 by the Rev. James Cleveland – perhaps the major driving force in modern gospel music – and star gospel performerAlbertina Walker. Described on its website (www.gmwanational.net) as “a non-profit, interdenominational, interracial, non-sexist oriented, international association of gospel singers and musicians,” the group holds a yearly convention that draws some 20,000 delegates to education and performance opportunities.
The mission of these delegates, and the chapters they belong to, is “to preserve the heritage of Gospel music in America, while providing a forum for the development of excellence in the presentation of Gospel music. Further, to increase opportunities for the perpetuation of Gospel music throughout other industries, arenas, and the world.” There are some 250 chapters worldwide, including Tulsa’s, with which Dr. Crutcher has been deeply involved for many years.
“I’m a chapter representative,” he notes. “We’re planning to go to Las Vegas in March for the annual board meeting, and that’s actually the preparation for our national convention, which is going to be in New Orleans this year, the second week in July.”
Oklahoma City also has a GMWA chapter, and, says Dr. Crutcher, that group will be sending representatives to perform Sunday as well.
As its organizer as well as a participant, Dr. Crutcher stops short of calling the Christmas concert a variety show – because, he says, “it takes away the theological aspect of it.” But, he adds, “This particular show is going to have gospel, and gospel jazz, and a little bit of R&B.
“When you’re dealing with gospel music, you’re dealing with a lot of different styles,” he explains. “I specialize in traditional gospel, but there’s also a lot of contemporary gospel. We’re opening this up to a lot of musicians from around the city, so it’ll be kind of a mixture. A lot of times, we just kind of look around ourselves to see what’s going to happen.”
Dr. Joey Crutcher’s Christmas Gospel Celebrationis set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 14, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.
Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.JazzHallTickets.com, or by calling 918-928-JAZZ. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014-5 Winter Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.