Southern Gospel Times Feature Article
Behind the Scenes with Terri Renfrow
Pauline Patterson goes behind the scenes with an interview with Terri Renfrow, mother of Jason, Terah, Aaron, and Adam Crabb. They were typical youngsters. They enjoyed sports, they liked to hang out and do teenage things...with one exception; they were all born with a talent and a God-given gift for compassion that has firmly planted them at the top of the rung in Southern Gospel music. Although Terri is the biological mother of the Crabb kids; she for the most part, remained in obscurity until the last few years. Read Terri's story, as a proud mother applauds her children in their goal to minister far and wide...
Pauline: Terri, what an honor it is to be sitting here talking with Terri Renfrow. The majority of the nation may not know who you are, but you are the biological mother of some of the nation's most well-known, if not the most well-known Southern Gospel music family, the Crabb Family kids! You are the mother to Terah, Jason, Aaron, and Adam Crabb, and they have been at the forefront of the industry with awards too many to name! A short list includes Grammys, Doves, and Singing News fan awards. You must be proud, but many people do not know who you are. Obviously, Terri, there was a divorce that caused you to pull back from the public eye. Did you raise the children and did they grow up in the home under your supervision?
Pauline: I know they traveled with their dad, Gerald Crabb, many years as the Crabb Family. What were their ages when they started in this group ministry with their dad, and what was it like in your house with Jason and all the Crabb kids, growing up?
Terri: Jason started first with his dad at about 16; then Aaron joined. Terah joined when she was about 12 or 13. She promised me that she would homeschool until she finished school, and Adam joined last, at age 16. He was very reluctant to leave his momma, always taking care of me. Terri: (laughs, saying) Jason was a clingy kid, at first. Terah was shy; it would take her awhile, but they all loved music...lots of music..and lots of fun! They loved to sing and dance. They loved sports. They weren't just preachers kids; they had normal lives and weren't mean. Lots of people say preachers kids are mean, but they were not. They enjoyed being children. Jason loved music and the twins, Adam and Aaron, loved basketball. But the twins loved music, too. They would sing at the drop of a hat and drop the hat to do it!
Pauline: So, they were singing and playing instruments from an early age?
Pauline: What about you, Terri; do you have a background in singing and/or music?
Terri: Yes, I sang on a Praise and Worship team at our church, at Oak Grove Church of God in Cromwell, KY. I was in a group when I met their dad. He came to our church and I think that's how we ended up together. I was the only girl who could do back-up harmony. Also, my dad sang and played harmonica, and my mom's dad played fiddle, although I never did get to hear him play.
Pauline: Are you a songwriter?
Terri: I do write songs but I don't know if I would call myself a songwriter. I have had songs considered by larger groups.
Pauline: Are you a musician?
Terri: No, but I can fill in on the bass, if needed, and I used to play the piano during altar service.
Pauline: I met you and Gerald way back when the boys were very small. I'd say Jason may have been 7 or 8 years old. You and Gerald came to our hometown of Harlan, Ky. I believe at one time Gerald pastored that church. We hit it off. Jason especially had never forgotten me, saying, "Pauline, I grew up on your music. He always referred back to one of the songs I recorded, "He Will Deliver." The song was written by Jeff Durham, and it was at least 25 or 30 years that had passed when I saw Jason at NQC years ago. At that time, Jason stood and sang the whole verse and chorus in front of God and everybody. I know how proud you must be of these kids, Terri, did you raise your children in the house of God?
Terri: Yes, I did. The children have always sang and went to church all their lives. Jason sang his first song, ever, on his 2nd birthday, with his little guitar.The song was "Paul and Silas prayed in jail all night long."
Pauline: Terri, I have so honored you and respected you for your willingness to be obscure, to say the least. Although in your private world, I'm sure you and them (the children) have had a close relationship and get to spend time with one another.
Terri: Yes, they still come to me when they need their momma; Terah more now than the boys. She depends on me a lot more since she's married and has a child of her own. It kind of comes in spurts; it may be 3 or 4 times one month, and then, it could be a couple of months before seeing them. It depends on how busy their schedules become. I don't get to see Aaron much, since for the last 2 years, he and Amanda have been with the John Hagee church in San Antonio. I get to see Adam pretty often. I'm hoping to hop on the bus with Jason this summer for a week or so. I'm looking forward to that!
Pauline: Terri, do you have other children?
Terri: Yes, I am married to Timothy Scott Renfrow and we have an adopted daughter, Katie. We were blessed to get her when she was 3 weeks old, and she's always known she was adopted. She's 14, now. The older kids, especially Jason, have her spoiled!
Pauline: Did you get to go to the Dove Awards? ...and what about Jason!?
Terri: I really felt he would get Male Vocalist, and told him so, but really didn't expect the big one! He's not just talented; he works hard, too. I'm so proud of him!
But no, I didn't get to go this year. I had to work and Mom had been very sick, so I was staying around close to her. Jason said, "Mom, next year you've got to be there."
Pauline: I have watched you as you posted things on Facebook and I could see how proud of all them you are.
Terri: Oh, yes.
Pauline: Was it your decision at some point to stay in the background for the sake of their ministry or did it just happen?
Terri: For the sake of their ministry, I decided it was for the best. Divorce wasn't accepted as well back then as it is now. Not to say I believe divorce is right; it is not what God wants for anyone. As far as I'm concerned, I intended to stay "till death do us part." So, because it was so frowned upon, I stepped back. I didn't want to hinder their work for God. I wanted them to go forward.
Pauline: Do you think God is honoring you now; allowing you to come to the forefront, like he's allowing you to say, "Hey, I'm Terri Renfrow; do you know who my children are?!!"
Terri: Yes, I think God is allowing it at this time. God's timing is best. I have missed out on a lot as far as being at different events, but you do what's best for your kids. God is allowing me now to share in their accomplishments. But, there was a time of bitterness. I'm not saying I did everything right; by no means. When I got everything right in my personal relationship with Him, everything else turned around.
Pauline: Terri, I know it hasn't been easy standing back in obscurity when any mother would love to be front and center in applauding her children as they reach the top and acheive their life goals. Again, I honor you for your selflessness. Do you have a message of hope and encouragement for women in a similiar situation?
Terri: Yes, that God's got a timing. It's going to get better. Hold on to Him. Get into the Word of God. You're going to find your way. God has a plan. If you put him first, even before your kids, it'll get better. There have been times I've had questions, but I have had to learn to be content. God has a way of bringing everything full circle. I'd love to write a book if I could do it gracefully.
Pauline: Wow, Terri, I think the world needs to hear this. Thank you so much for your graciousness in letting us hear your story. You have certainly made us proud. I wanted to share some sweet thoughts from your children. God bless you on your journey, Terri!
Terah Penhollow: Mom is one of the most sweet, hardworking, trusting, loving, and caring people, ever! She's mom but also one of my best friends.:) Love you mom!
Adam Crabb: Mom is strong, mom is peace, mom is caring, mom is very forgiving, mom is everything a son needs. Mom is love. Love you Mom.
Jason Crabb: Mom is consistent. If there's a time I need truth; she is there. If I just need a voice to sooth a crazy day; she is always there. If I need someone to truly love me for who I am; she always loves me. I don't have to perform to make Mom happy; she just loves me. And I truly love her.
Back to Features...