Valdosta, Ga. —
The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is saddened to announce our long-time associate, friend and one of America’s premier gospel songwriters, the Rev. Colbert Croft, formerly of Jasper, passed away from this life in Valdosta early Jan.1 after a long illness.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Perimeter Road Baptist Church in Valdosta. Viewing and family visitation will be Monday, Jan. 6, from 5 - 7 p.m. at Carson-McLane Funeral Home, 2215 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Ga. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Jasper, Fla.
Colbert Croft was known throughout America as a prolific gospel songwriter with his lovely and musically talented wife Joyce. Their 5,000 plus gospel songs have become standards in the gospel music industry.
The Crofts were part of the Suwannee River Jubilee held at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Fla. for the past 25 years. “He was the fellow who made the key contact with the Florida Boys’ Les Beazley,” said SOSMP co-founder Bob Cornett. "Les Beazley headed up the Florida Boys' gospel group at that time,” Cornett said. “The Dixie Echoes were a part of it, and they put it (the Jubilee) on together. But Colbert was the main man that made the deal originally and called the Florida Boys to set it up,“ Cornett said of the beginning of the Jubilee. Colbert and Joyce hosted the Bean Supper every year on Wednesday night before the three-day gospel sing began. A gospel concert followed the bean supper. Joyce said she and Colbert led the morning worship every morning during the Jubilee each year. Both were involved in the event throughout the first 25 years celebrated in 2013.
The Crofts were married nearly 50 years and were traveling evangelists who spread the gospel through music, song and Colbert's preaching. Colbert’s love of the Lord was exemplified by his willingness to help others, share his music and always offer a helping hand to those trying to break into gospel music or in need.
Colbert founded and pastored Faith Chapel in downtown Jasper. It was here he would invite numerous famous gospel groups to stop by and sing. Many of those groups would ask for any new songs available from the couple and of course, Colbert always had a compilation disk ready, according to long-time friend, The Rev. Randy Lamb of Brunswick, Ga. “I would sing the new songs for the compilation disks,” he added. Randy also recorded, “Daddy Had A Friend,” written by the couple. It went to #88 on gospel charts in 1988, Lamb said. “I never knew if Colbert wrote that song about my granddaddy who was an old-time preacher or how he got the words, but it described my granddaddy, the Rev. Jack Lamb, perfectly.” Lamb, a former youth leader and evangelist who is also a gospel singer and pastor, said he saw God use Colbert to heal people several times over the years, but Colbert never told anyone God had used him in that way. “He had the gift of healing,” Lamb stated emphatically.
Gospel's Best Words and Music Song Book lists the names of 525 of the best gospel songs which includes the following songs written by the Crofts: “The Future’s Looking Brighter,” “I Believe He Died For Me,” “I can’t Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand,” “I’m The Reason” and “Is That Footsteps I hear?” The Crofts’ names are listed in this book among the best gospel songwriters such as Rogers and Hammerstein, Bill and Gloria Gaither, Rusty Goodman, Mylon LeFevre, Kris Kristofferson, Marion W. Easterling, Clevant Derricks, Reba Rambo, Aaron Wilburn, Eddie Crook, Dottie Rambo, Wally Fowler, Albert E. Brumley, Adger M. Pace, Squire Parsons, Gov. Jimmie Davis, Ralph Carmichael, Elton John, G.T. Speer, J.D. Sumner, Jack W. Campbell and more.
One of their songs, “Flow Through Me Holy Spirit,” was translated into the Navajo language by Guy James and recorded on video for the Navajo nation to hear the word of God in their language. County music great Marty Stuart recorded the Crofts' “I Can’t Even Walk” on his 13th album, Souls’ Chapel. The album was nominated for a Dove Award for Country Album of the Year in 2006 at the 37th GMA Dove Awards. The song was also included in 16 Great Southern Gospel Classics, Vol. 2.
Perhaps the most well-known of all, “I Can’t Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand,” a standard in Southern gospel, was recorded and sung by many and included in The Worlds’ Greatest Southern Gospel Songs (50 Southern Gospel Classics) edition.