Aaron & Amanda Crabb appreciate the power of music. They’ve seen it usher thousands into the presence of God as worship leaders and they’ve seen it calm their tiny daughter in the emergency room following a horrific accident. A song can have tremendous impact on a single heart or culture at large. With their new album, Mercy, the couple unleashes a powerful collection of songs that both entertain and inspire.
“Leading worship, we have the best seat in the house,” Amanda says of their role at San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church. “It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. You see the breakthrough come. All the heaviness people bring into the sanctuary, it begins to lift and you see chains fall. We are completely honored to call ourselves worship leaders.”
So naturally Mercy includes some powerful worship anthems, and yet the project goes even further in ministering to their audience. The husband and wife duo wrote or co-wrote seven songs and the album covers a broad range of territory both musically and lyrically.
Aaron says, “We love all styles, so you’ll hear a lot of different influences. I’m a country boy, and those roots probably come through more than anything else. These songs came at the right season in our life. God molded this album and shaped it to what it needs to be and I believe it’s going to help a lot of people.”
Co-produced by Aaron and Ben Issacs (Oak Ridge Boys, The Isaacs), the album’s title comes from the song “If I’m Guilty.” Penned by award-winning songwriters Tony Wood, Don Poythress and Aaron’s father, Gerald Crabb, the song is a challenge to extend compassion. “The message is so true,” Amanda says and quotes the lyric, “’If I’m guilty, let me be guilty of too much mercy.’ That became the theme of the record. God has given us so much mercy in our own lives, in our marriage, in our three children (Elijah David, Age 8; Eva Lyn, Age 6; and Ean William, Age 2) . I want to turn around and give mercy to those in need and to those who don’t even know they need mercy.”
Another of the album’s many highlights “Take Him to the Place,” is a beautiful ballad penned by the couple that originated during a trip to the Holy Land. Amanda remembers writing a prayer and placing it on the Western Wall. “I said, ‘God I want to be creative again for your glory. I want to write songs. I want fresh ideas.’ I stuck the prayer in the wall, put my hand on the wall and just said a quiet prayer,” she explains. “I backed away because the Jews believe you never turn your back to the presence of God. As I’m walking backwards, I started hearing these lyrics for the next two hours I was walking in Jerusalem.”
The talented duo shift musical gears on the decidedly country “I’m Learning,” a personal proclamation Aaron & Amanda hope will be embraced by mainstream country radio. “We heard it and immediately thought, ‘That’s just us.’ We’re learning life as we live it and learning the things that matter and the things that don’t,’ Aaron says. “The most important thing is your family and your relationship with God because relationships with people and things on this earth one day are going to pass away, but He will be forever.”
“We really tried to search for songs that are true to who we are, what we believe and experiences we’ve been through,” Aaron continues. “Tribulation, patience and experience bring about Hope. We’ve been there. We can tell you, you’re going to make it. There’s Hope.”
Aaron first became known to gospel music audiences as a member of the groundbreaking Crabb Family, when the Kentucky native began performing with his siblings as a teen. The group became one of the most popular acts in Southern Gospel music and their progressive sound, distinctive harmonies and compelling songs earned the Crabb Family loyal fans across all musical genres, not to mention 10 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and two GRAMMY® nominations.
In 2007, the group amicably disbanded, providing Aaron and Amanda a chance to record as a duo. They’ve since released three acclaimed projects—2008’s After the Rain, which earned them their first Dove nomination as a duo, 2009’s CD/DVD release Live at Oaktree and 2010’s Love with No End. “We always felt like God would call us to a church,” Amanda says. “We didn’t know how, when or where. We had several offers that came to the table, and we would specifically pray and ask God but none of them ever felt right. Then Pastor Matt called.”
Matthew Hagee, executive pastor of San Antonio’s 20,000 member Cornerstone Church—an internationally influential congregation founded by his father, John Hagee—asked Aaron and Amanda to pray about becoming worship leaders there. “I remember the first time we stepped into that sanctuary,” Amanda says. “Even as big of a church as it is, it felt like our little hometown church. Everybody was just so welcoming. And it didn’t matter if we were singing Southern gospel or very contemporary worship, the people worshipped.” Aaron and Amanda made Cornerstone their home for five years as full-time worship leaders, before being called to start their own church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Aaron and Amanda are willing to be transparent and share their experiences, even when it comes to relating very painful circumstances, such as the abuse Amanda suffered as a child, and more recently, the tragic accident that occurred the night of the 2009 Dove Awards. “We were presenters and we were up for awards that year,” Amanda recalls. “I had my phone in my lap and I looked down at 8 pm and our nanny was calling. I answered and I heard a scream on the other end. She said, ‘Eva has fallen out of my window!’”
Aaron & Amanda sped to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital while family friend and fellow recording artist Donnie McClurkin stopped the Dove Awards to lead a prayer. “I don’t think I took my foot off the gas. It was all the way to the floor trying to get to the hospital. We beat the ambulance there,” Aaron recalls. “We were both just praying. I don’t think I ever prayed that hard in my life.”
Eva had fallen 15 feet from a second story window and was covered in blood when they saw her in the emergency room. “She hit an air conditioning unit that probably saved her life because under it was a concrete slab,” Amanda explains. “I started laying hands on the doctors and praying for them, for God to allow them to be an instrument for Him. They had to get a CT scan to prove that everything was okay before they could even touch her. They didn’t know if the brain was swelling, if the spine was severed, so they rolled her back for the scan and they couldn’t get it.”
Little Eva was just too hurt and confused to be still for the CT scan so the doctors asked her parents to calm her down. “She wanted us to hold her,” Amanda says. “They had her strapped down and she kept saying, ‘Get these seatbelts off of me!’ She wanted off of that bed and so the only thing I knew to do was to sing. I said, ‘Eva do you want us to sing to you?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ I always thought we were worshippers but until that moment I had no clue what a true heart of worship was.”
“All I could do was take my hands off my baby and raise them and tell God: ‘You are holy no matter what.’ Eva went from the most enraged moment into the most peaceful sleep. They took the CT scan and it came back clear. There were no broken bones, no internal injuries. Eva left the hospital the next morning and a week later the doctor said, ‘This child looks like she scraped herself falling on the sidewalk. She does not look like she’s fallen 15 feet” Amanda recalls.
Aaron & Amanda will never forget the presence of God filling the room as they sang and peace washed over their little girl. The musical gifts they had used for years to help and heal others suddenly became a life-changing gift to their own child.
It was a night undoubtedly covered in God’s mercy, and that theme continues to permeate the couple’s lives and the art they create. Whether pastoring, leading worship, presenting concerts around the country, or simply living each day with their children, Mercy is the song Aaron & Amanda Crabb sing—not just for themselves—but for the whole world to hear.