New England couple now a part of music history
BY RACHEL BOCK | Herald Reporter
New England residents Randy and Karen Crawford were chosen to be inducted into the Legends of Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame this past May in South Dakota. The Hall of Fame was started in 2003 as a way to honor South Dakota musicians and performers who have promoted country music in the state. The Crawford’s were nominated by a former band member by the name of Bobby Humprey, a steel guitar player that Randy and Karen played with in a band years ago.
Nomination is the first step of the induction process. The Crawford’s also had to write a biography, and submit pictures of them performing, along with other criteria.
The Legends of Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame have inductions twice a year, and the Crawford’s were inducted on May 15, 2016, at the American Legion in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Randy and Karen were two of the 14 new members that were inducted that day. All inductees performed a concert, and the money raised will be used to provide children with musical instruments.
“It was so hard to write a biography, because the past 35 to 40 years there was so much that has happened. I can remember us playing when we first started doing a duo and practicing, I had babies on my knees playing keyboard trying to sing and they are wanting to sing. A lot of different changes over the years. Just has been a fun time with music all of our lives,” Crawford said.
For the Crawford’s, country music has been a big part of their lives. Even though they grew up in different parts of the U.S., both Randy and Karen have similar musical family backgrounds that have influenced their own talent. It’s a talent that has brought them together as a couple and has been a major part of their own musical careers and their lives.
Karen (Parmley) Crawford has been singing since she was a little girl. She grew up in Renton, Wash. into a talented musical family. Growing up, she remembers watching her family perform country music on the television; her grandmother Ida Wilson performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and Karen’s mother, Lena Parmley, along with Karen’s aunts performed on the Chubby Howard Show. With the strong family influence, music became an important part of Karen’s life and she would sing anytime that she had a chance to, mainly at church or for the school choir. Her family would play music and sing, and her mother taught her how to yodel and play the guitar. When Karen was 17, her aunts would take her along and she started performing at clubs after hours when minors were allowed to be in the club.
“I just loved music, with having so much family around it just came natural,” Karen Crawford said.
At the age of 21, Karen was hired into her first band, Nokie Edwards and the Marksmen, as a vocalist and keyboard player. After landing a job in her first big band she didn’t know it at the time, but joining that band would change her life after connecting with the drummer, a man named Randy Crawford.
Randy Crawford also grew up in a gifted musical family, as his grandparents were Vaudeville performers in the early 1920s. Randy, who grew up around Custer, S.D. started playing drums at the age of nine. By the age of 10, he started to play in a musical trio with his brother Mike, who played the bass guitar, and their father Robert Crawford, who played the accordion—all of them singing vocals. The trio started off slowly, playing only on the weekends, building up to playing six nights a week. By the time Randy was 13, he was playing on the road all around South Dakota. The family trio opened up for Little Jimmy Dicken’s and Roy Akens Jr. in Rapid City, S.D. Little Jimmy wanted to hire Randy, but his parents thought he was not old enough to be on his own. Randy played for various bands over the years and headed to Washington state in the late 1970s, joining a band called Nokie and the Marksmen, which is where he met his future wife Karen.
Together the Crawford’s have been performing music for 37 years, 34 of those years being married.
Years later, Randy and Karen joined a band called Country Justice, where they represented the state of Washington in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest and went on to Nashville to compete nationally where they place seventh.
They won a recording session where they recorded “The Cabin Yodel,” a song that Karen wrote one night on a brown paper bag for her grandmother.
Randy and Karen started performing as a duo “The Crawford’s” in 1991, Randy plays lead and steel guitar, and Karen plays keyboard. The Crawford’s played in various states around the country and they currently perform at every opportunity they can take advantage of, mostly at church functions.
Randy and Karen have lived in New England for the past five years and have two adult daughters and four grandchildren. The Crawford’s are hoping to pass their gift of music down to their grandchildren, as their granddaughter Alanna is starting to sing at church and likes to play at home with her grandmother’s keyboard and her grandfather’s steel guitar.
“Just kind of hoping to carry it on a little bit, hoping to pass down what Randy and myself love,” Karen Crawford said.