Herb and Crystal Taylor of Red Deer spent two decades crossing the continent to deliver the Gospel through song and word.
It’s been a pretty even partnership: “I sing, and my husband preaches,” said Crystal Taylor.
The couple have taken their Crystal Clear Ministries to hospitals, nursing homes, rodeos, weddings, funerals, parades, fairs, street corners, parks, restaurants, Wal-Marts, flea-markets and anywhere there’s an audience.
The evangelical Christian ministry that started with the Taylors hitting the road in their motorhome in 1994, is now celebrating its 20th anniversary with a fundraising banquet and silent auction on Saturday at Balmoral Bible Chapel, north of Red Deer’s Rosedale neighbourhood on Hwy 11 east.
The event will feature music by the reunited Jordan Echoes gospel group of Central Alberta, as well as Crystal Taylor.
The Red Deer-based singer/songwriter will perform her religious songs in a country vein, since that’s been her preferred genre ever since she took the stage with a Kitty Wells song at age 11.
“It was the only song I knew the words to, and (the audience) encored me,” recalled Crystal, who grew up in Nova Scotia with a love for Christian, as well as country, music.
After seeing a performance of the Speer Family southern gospel singers, Crystal knew what she wanted to do: “join country and gospel.”
Her future path became even clearer at age 15. That’s when Crystal met her future husband, Herb, then a 17-year-old evangelist who already knew he wanted to be in full-time ministry.
Although not an ordained minister, Herb has a gift and a passion for imparting God’s Word, said Crystal.
And spreading the Christian message is what the Taylors have been doing ever since — whether driving or flying across North America.
“Music helps lots of things get through to people,” said Crystal, who tries to make her songs relatable to listeners without being didactic. “I’ve heard some people say I have a gentle way of delivering a powerful message — and for me, that says it all.”
Since she began writing her own country-gospel tunes in 1988, Crystal has recorded 75 original compositions on seven Nashville-produced albums.
Over the years, she’s performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and shared stages with Johnny Cash’s sister, Joanne Yates, as well as George Hamilton IV, Dick Damron, Potter’s Clay and other notable gospel acts.
Crystal also sang at the Calgary Stampede Parade, 1988 Calgary Olympics, and performed for various Christian audiences, including cowboys, truckers, and bikers and street people. She’s played guitar at countless country gospel jamborees and cowboy churches from Alberta to New Mexico.
Crystal also won a Canadian Gospel Music Association songwriter of the year award for the northwest region in 2000, and has appeared on various Christian TV programs, including 100 Huntley Street.
After 20 years, she and Herb are showing no signs of tiring — Crystal noted the pair are sometimes away from home more than eight months of the year, often travelling as far as Newfoundland or the southern U.S.
Funds raised from the anniversary banquet will go towards the ministry’s expenses, including travel costs.
Since Crystal’s last album Just Pray came out in 2010, she said she’d also like to put out another release fairly soon.
Tickets to the 5:30 p.m. banquet are $30 each or $200 for a table of eight. For more information, call 403-342-7357 or 403-347-5450.