Ruth Crawford’s Music

Pinebrook Concerts 1962

Here are recordings of five Saturday night concerts given at Pinebrook Bible Conference (Stroudsburg, PA) in July/August, 1962, two years after Percy Crawford’s death when his son Richard Crawford was running the camp. They are of very good quality considering they were made 60 years ago. They are important insofar as they reflect the influence on Ruth’s music of the trend in evangelical styles toward a “bigger,” more robust sound with chorus and brass, reinforced perhaps by Ruth’s associates Clayton Erb and Neil Fichthorn.

Ruth’s “softer” style is still evident in her accompaniment of most of the music, in Ruth’s vocal solos and duet, and in the solos of the returning YPCA quartet members (Bob Straton, Sam Seymour, and Steve Musto). Her piano duets (with organist Clayton Erb) represent a mix of old and new styles, as do several selections by some of the guest musicians that were coming through Pinebrook (John & Bobbie Landgraf, and Theron & Barbara Spurr). Ruth continued to direct the music program at Pinebrook until 1968 when Richard sold the camp.

Youth on the March Broadcasts 1954-1957

Percy and Ruth’s television program, Youth on the March, aired coast-to-coast on the ABC network from 1949 to 1953, and then locally (mostly in Philadelphia and New York City) off and on from 1954-1958. During all these years, the soundtrack of the TV program was aired on hundreds of radio stations across the country, and many of the YOM programs were aired only on radio.

The six programs here comprise the musical portions of several Youth on the March broadcasts from the period 1954 to 1957. Only two of these programs were aired on television: The King’s College program, (1957?); and ‘Sept 29, 1957’ with Richard Crawford, age 18, emceeing in his father’s absence. (Janet Schultz subbed for Ruth8 at the piano.)

These six programs illustrate the “soft” musical style and format that Ruth had developed over the previous two decades, slightly modified to give women a more prominent role. (Note that Hilda Schmeiser is one of the lead soloists along with quartet members Bob Straton, Sam Seymour, and Steve Musto. And by 1955, Ruth herself has taken on a more active singing role.

The format of these programs continues to be family-oriented, with the Crawford children (the 4 D’s, Don, Dick, Dan, and Dean, and sister Donna Lee) appearing on most programs.  

Note too that one of the programs (Sept 12, 1954) was transmitted from Pinebrook Bible Conference and includes two soul-stirring numbers by the Wigden Trio (Bob, Gladys, and Lawrence).


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