– credit By Jimmie Tramel Tulsa World
Crowder will headline Winter Jam during a Feb. 8 tour stop at Tulsa’s BOK Center. Tulsa is part of his story. So is a Bigfoot-type monster, if you want to stick around for the off-topic part of a recent telephone interview. First, the basics: Winter Jam is Christian music’s largest multi-artist annual tour. You can see Crowder and other Winter Jam artists without buying a ticket. Entry can be gained with a $15 donation at the door.
As far as Crowder is concerned, can we trace all this back to a long-ago trip to Tulsa and a puppet encounter?
Crowder grew up in Texarkana, Texas. He went to “camp meetings” in Tulsa when he was kid and it was at one of those camp meetings when, during a puppet show, a puppet named Eugene asked Jesus to come into his heart.
“I was like, I want what Eugene has got,” Crowder recalled.
Now Crowder is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter in the Christian music field who has sold more than three million units.
Just like he planned all along?
Crowder said his parents were “big into the Oral Roberts thing” and they once made a trip to the City of Faith hospital.
“I’m going to be working here one day,” he decided immediately after the trip. “I bet you I will be a doctor and cure cancer. That lasted for about a week or so. Impressionable children.”
The plan changed again when Crowder got to college. He had no intention of going into the music industry.
“I thought my dad was the coolest guy on the planet,” he said. “I wanted to do what he did. He sold insurance at an insurance agency in town. I thought that’s what I want to do. Sure enough, there’s a turn in the road and here we are.”
And, now that we’re here, chew on these conversation topics:
Eugene the puppet
As an adult, Crowder was reunited with Eugene.
“We were playing at Willie George’s church up there,” he said. “I was telling people you are not going to believe this, but I began my journey with Jesus right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. … Years later, here we are at that church and I’m telling that story to everybody and then, after the deal, Willie — Pastor George — said ‘You want to meet Eugene?’
“What? You still have it? Sure enough. There he is. They’ve got about five of them. So I got to meet Eugene the puppet, sitting in a case. It was kind of a freaky experience. I didn’t get too close or touch him or anything. I was just like, I believe you, he’s right there. Sure enough, that’s the guy. That’s the one.”
Crowder didn’t expect to field Bigfoot-related questions, but he likes out-of-the-norm questions and had fun with the topic.
Here’s why it was a topic: Crowder grew up not far from Fouke, Ark., where sightings of a Bigfoot-type creature (the Fouke Monster) led to the making of the documentary-style movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” in 1972.
Did Crowder ever go hunting for the monster? His answer: “One thousand percent, yes.” He said he convinced a younger brother he found some footprints.
“We had plenty of woods to roam in,” he said. “We were sure we were going to find that sucker at some point. We just knew it. I’m dead serious. We had our BB guns pumped up and ready to go.”
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