Crowder is one of 11 contemporary Christian music acts on Winter Jam. / Six Step Records Contributed Image

This story was updated at 4:53 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, 2020, with more information.

UPDATE: The tour has been canceled.


ORIGINAL STORY: Moving to Atlanta shortly before making 2016's "American Prodigal," Crowder became fascinated by the hip-hop scene, taking note of how those artists created songs and how prolific they were in the amount of music they released.

"It seemed like they'd blow out a 20-song drop every month. So I just started watching the process. I was like 'Man, this is what I need to do. I'm going to approach the writing totally different than I ever have,'" the contemporary Christian music artist explained in a phone interview.

"What would happen is my buddies would go into the studio, and then there would be a guy who has made a bunch of beats (the track guy). He'd start scrolling through beats and be like, 'Hey, are you feeling this?' And they'd nod along and all of a sudden something would change in the room. You'd connect with it. They'd be in the vocal booth and (before you knew it), there would be your next song. It would take no time at all because you've got the beat; you just do a little arranging and there it is, out the door."

So Crowder decided to employ a similar formula for "I Know A Ghost," bringing in track guys to create basic rhythm tracks. "I Know A Ghost" blends together seemingly incongruent musical elements – hip-hop, EDM and bluegrass/country touches provided by instruments such as banjo, fiddle, dobro and lap steel guitar. It created a folk-ish, roots-rock sound with an urban accent.

If you go

› What: Winter Jam 2020

› Where: McKenzie Arena, 720 E. Fourth St.

› When: 3:30 p.m. Jam Nation, 5 p.m Pre-Jam Party, 6 p.m. concert Sunday, March 15

› Admission: $15 ages 3 and older

› For more information:

"They'd send me tracks. I'd get a Dropbox folder or whatever through the internet and there'd be six to 12 songs that would just be a verse-chorus idea," Crowder said. "I would scroll through them, one would click and I'd pull a guitar out and there was the song. It felt like I had never made music before. It was like 'Oh my goodness, I could do this all day, every day. This is a blast.'"

The new songwriting approach for "I Know A Ghost" yielded an album that is similar stylistically to "Neon Steeple" and "American Prodigal." The three solo albums have continued what was already a highly successful career for Crowder in the Christian music world.

Crowder is headlining this year's edition of Winter Jam, the Christian music tour that features about a dozen acts and speakers. It stops Sunday, March 15, at McKenzie Arena. He has been on several previous Winter Jams and said he relished the camaraderie and family-like vibe of the tour.

One of the challenges that comes with Winter Jam, though, is that Crowder only has about 45 minutes for his headlining set. But he thinks he has overcome that issue.

"I'm kind of borrowing from my hip-hop friends that are in the ATL," he said. "You can arrange a song where it feels like you experienced the whole song, but it only takes a minute and a half. Old-school country guys used to blow through a song that way as well.

"So I've just truncated a bunch of songs to where we've got arrangements that are flowing one into the next and you get through five songs in less than four minutes. It's my favorite set list we've ever put together."




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