Time – the continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past. In one respect, time does not seem to define the career of critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and multi-Dove Award winner, Crystal Lewis. In a day and age where so many artists come and go, Crystal’s unbelievable voice and undeniable message has withstood the test of time. In the year 2009, Crystal will celebrate 24 years as a successful recording artist. Within those 24 years, Crystal has released 20 English albums (including one remix project and two live projects) and 7 Spanish albums and does not show any sign of slowing down. In Spring 2006, Crystal released her first ever children’s project, Joyful Noise.
“Joyful Noise is a collection of songs written for kids (and their parents), inspired by scripture, meant to exalt Jesus and encourage worship. Five of the songs were inspired by the book 'Jesus A to Z' by Yvonne Riley. The other five songs came from my heart as a mom of two kids. It brings me indescribable joy to be able to include my kids on this record.” Joyful Noise may be Crystal’s first children’s CD release, but she herself is no stranger to being involved in children’s music; in fact, it is what jump started her career. In 1985, at 15 years of age, Crystal auditioned and got a part in a children’s musical written and produced by Ernie and Debbie Retino (creators of Psalty, the Singing Song Book) entitled Hi Tops. It was her involvement with this musical that set Crystal on a course that would lead her to become a part of a rock-a-billy band called Wild Blue Yonder (formerly the Lifters, which was connected to Maranatha Music) marking the beginning of her music career (as well as her fondness of Brian Ray, her now husband of nearly 20 years). After recording one full-length album on Frontline Records and the disbanding of Wild Blue Yonder, Crystal was offered a solo recording contract by Frontline at the age of 17. She released three CDs under Frontline: Beyond the Charade (1987), Joy (1988), and Let Love In (1990). It was during this time that Brian and Crystal’s professional and personal relationship grew tighter. They married in 1989 and their dream of starting their own record label came true with the creation of Metro One in 1992.
As Metro One moved into full gear, being the ambitious person that she is, Crystal decided to take on television and starred in Roundhouse (a Nickelodeon TV series) for a year. After much prayer and seeking God’s will, Crystal departed from the television show to focus on the label. Crystal and Brian now had all the responsibility of releasing an album from start to finish on their shoulders, but with God’s help, they accomplished their goal and Remember was released in English and Spanish in 1992. The Bride and La Esposa (Spanish version of The Bride) then followed in 1993. The Bride would eventually be ranked #97 in the 2001 book release of CCM Presents: The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music. In 1994, she released a remix album and in 1995 released, Hymns: My Life, Himnos De Mi Vida (Spanish version of the aforementioned) as well as a greatest hits collection that included a #1 song on the Pop/Dance Charts, “Shine Jesus Shine.” Her next album which was released in 1996 (distributed by Myrrh Records), Beauty for Ashes, had multiple #1 radio singles such as “People Get Ready…Jesus is Comin’”, “Beauty of the Cross,” “God’s Been Good to Me,” “and “Beauty for Ashes.” Not only was the single “People Get Ready…Jesus is Comin’” song of the year in 1996 on Christian Radio, but the entire album was certified Gold by the RIAA. Crystal released a Spanish version of this album as well, La Belleza De La Cruz that same year.
Crystal’s success continued in 1998 with two more #1 hit songs such as “Lord I Believe in You” and “Not the Same” off of her Gold release. Some versions of Gold also included the Kirk Franklin song “Lean on Me” which featured Crystal’s vocals alongside other artists’ such as Bono and Mary J. Blige. Later that year, Crystal won Dove Awards for “Female Vocalist of the Year” as well as “Spanish Language Album of the Year” for La Belleza De La Cruz.
The following year, Crystal had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform “Lean on Me” with Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Bono as well as other artists on the 1999 Grammy Awards. Also in 1999, Crystal released The Attack of the Screamin’ Rays (with long time friend and fellow Wild Blue Yonder band member Chris Brigandi) and her first live album entitled Live @ The Woodlands, which was recorded live in Houston, Texas the previous year. She then garnered yet another Dove Award (“Special Event Album") for her contribution to the “Exodus” project and her second “Spanish Language Album” Dove Award for Oro that same year. Her 2000 Fearless release earned Crystal a Grammy nomination for “Best Christian Pop Album of the Year” and her song “Only Fools” was voted song of the year by ASCAP. Also in 2000, Crystal released her first Christmas album, which showed off her talent in the Jazz genre, Holiday! A Collection of Christmas Classics. CCM Magazine voted this album as the 5th Best Christmas album of all-time. In 2001, Crystal released More, which included some of her earlier hit songs as well as new songs like the rock-filled More and the captivating Like a Child. She also released More Live, her second live project in 2002 as well as Holy, Holy, Holy, her second collection of hymns. It was about 3 years later, in 2005, that Crystal released See, followed closely by the release of Joyful Noise in 2006.
Crystal’s uniqueness and creativity still pours out incorporating her vocal prowess, the joyful, uplifting voices of children (including her very own), and most importantly the undeniable message of Christ. She continues to prove that her music and His message stand the test of time.
“I don't think as an artist, one of those creative-types, you are ever at the end.”