Derek Webb in performance at Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX on September 24, 2006.
|Born||May 27, 1974|
|Origin||Memphis, TN, United States|
|Genres||Singer-songwriter, folk, contemporary Christian music|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, record producer, co-founder and president of NoiseTrade|
|Labels||Warner Alliance, Essential, INO|
|Associated acts||Caedmon's Call, Sandra McCracken, The Normals|
Derek Walsh Webb (born May 27, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter who first entered the music industry as a member of the band Caedmon's Call, and later embarked on a successful solo career. As a member of the Houston, Texas-based Caedmon’s Call, Webb has seen career sales approaching 1 million records, along with 10 GMA Dove Award nominations and three Dove Award wins and six No. 1 Christian radio hits.
In 2003, Webb left Caedmon's Call to pursue a solo career. Since his departure, he has released seven studio albums (including one instrumental), a live album, two compilation albums, two covers projects, two DVDs, and two EPs (with his then-wife, Sandra McCracken). While these have been less commercially successful than his work with Caedmon's Call, Webb has had more of a free hand to shape his work to his vision.
His latest album, I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You, was released on September 3, 2013.
Webb's mother, a gifted classically-trained pianist, encouraged his musical interests at a very young age. Music came naturally to him, and he began to play the guitar at six years old. Concerning his musical training, Webb explains that he got his ear for music from his mother, but not the ability to read music, and that he "took one [guitar] lesson and then just taught myself out of the book." While in high school, he became known for his skill on the guitar. He toured with a band, though it broke up in his junior year following a serious car accident returning from playing a show at Baylor University. Webb graduated from Klein High School in Klein, Texas in 1992. Before joining Caedmon's Call, he went to community college in Houston for half a semester, and shared an apartment with his older brother who was attending medical school.
Caedmon's Call was formed in 1993 with four original members (three of whom still remain), Cliff Young, Danielle Glenn, Todd Bragg, and Aaron Tate. Aaron Tate, however, never intended to tour with the band, and was included in a songwriting capacity only, sharing those duties with Derek Webb who also played lead guitar.
Webb's invitation to join Caedmon's Call came from Tate, who at the time was attending Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. Shortly afterward, Webb made the trip to Fort Worth and met future band mate Cliff Young. Webb says, "I essentially just joined that band immediately. And as soon as I joined the band, I quit college the same day." As a result, for almost a full school year he pretended to go to class, with his family unaware he was actually pursuing the band in lieu of going to school.
In June 1994, the band released their first album, My Calm // Your Storm, originally a cassette-only demo recording. It was re-printed twice the same year with different cover art each time. In 1996 the band signed with now-defunct Christian label Warner Alliance, producing their self-titled release. Peaking at 110 on the Billboard 200, the album went on to win the GMA 1998 Modern Rock Album of the Year.
After the collapse of Warner Alliance in 1998, Caedmon's Call signed to Essential Records, where they released 40 Acres (1999), Long Line of Leavers (2000), In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship (2001), Back Home (2003). All of these albums were moderately successful, peaking at 61, 58, 72, and 66 respectively on the Billboard 200. Notably, Webb did not provide any songwriting for In the Company of Angels or Back Home, despite having been a primary songwriter for the band prior to their release. During this time period, Webb also contributed to City on a Hill: Songs of Worship and Praise (2000) and City on a Hill: Sing Alleluia (2002), both as a member of Caedmon's Call and as a solo artist, which respectively garnered the GMA 2001 & 2003 Special Event Album of the Year awards.
In 2001, Webb left the band to pursue his solo career, although he continued to contribute to their next album Back Home. Caedmon's Call then released Chronicles 1992-2004 (2004), a best-of collection of the band's work, which included work by Webb. In 2007, Caedmon's Call signed onto INO Records, and Webb was featured as singer and songwriter on the album, Overdressed. He continued to be involved with the band as producer on the 2011 album Raising Up The Dead.
Webb has considered himself a solo act since 2001, but admits his continued collaboration with the band can make it seem like he never left, saying "Caedmon’s Call, as it turns out, is very much like hotel california: you can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never really leave." 
On May 22, 2007, it was announced that Webb had again worked with Caedmon's Call, writing and recording for their album, entitled Overdressed, and would be joining the band on their subsequent tour.
His first solo album, She Must and Shall Go Free (2003) is notable for causing controversy in Contemporary Christian Music circles; some Christian retailers refused to stock the album for its use of "strong" language.
One of the songs that was the basis for controversy was Wedding Dress where Webb compares Christians who seek fulfillment in things outside of Christ to a person committing adultery. An introspective tune, Webb writes that "I am a whore I do confess / I put you on just like a wedding dress".
Another song that generated controversy was Saint and Sinner where Webb wrote "I used to be a damned mess but now I look just fine, 'Cause you dressed me up and we drank the finest wine". The word 'damned' was removed from the final version of the album, at the request of two major Christian retailers.
Following the release of She Must and Shall Go Free, Webb embarked on a national tour in which he played his concerts in the living rooms of fans. This provided the opportunity to have greater interaction with his listeners. He went on to release a live album from his "House Tour", entitled The House Show (2004).
His second solo studio record, I See Things Upside Down (2004), generated mixed reviews. All marketing to the typical Christian music stations used by his first solo album and his albums with Caedmon's Call was stopped, though the album still has explicitly Christian lyrics. In comparison to Webb's previous work, this album has what's been referred to as an "experimental" style to it, and has been compared to the music of Wilco in that respect. Webb has stated that the album "was doing away with people's expectations in order to free me up to do what I wanted." Following the release of I See Things Upside Down, Webb released a live concert DVD, How to Kill and Be Killed (2005).
His third studio album, titled Mockingbird (2005), was released on December 26, 2005. The album touches on subjects such as politics, social justice, and war. Webb has stated that he tackled these subjects to stimulate discussion and engage people to bring about changes in what he sees as some of the greatest problems the world is facing today. In order to broaden this discussion to people less inclined to purchase his album, beginning September 1, 2006, Webb offered Mockingbird for free on the website Free Derek Webb (no longer exists), where it was available for download until December 8, 2006. Over 80,000 free copies of the album were downloaded during this time.
On January 30, 2007, Webb released two EPs, each containing the same ten songs from earlier in his solo career, including pieces from each of his three solo studio albums. One Zero (Acoustic), contains acoustic reinterpretations of the songs, and is available in stores only. One Zero (Remix) makes use of the original recording sessions for each of the songs, but has been remixed by engineer Will Hunt. This more experimental record is available only online.
Webb's next project, The Ringing Bell was released on May 1, 2007. Before the release date, it was available for pre-order at TheRingingBell.com in a deluxe edition which included a 96-page graphic novel inspired by the album. Those who pre-ordered the deluxe edition of the album were also able to immediately download it in its entirety.
On May 12, 2009, Webb sent a message to his email mailing list stating that his next album Stockholm Syndrome was deemed too controversial for his record label to release. "It seems I've finally found the line beyond which my label can support me, and apparently I've crossed it," Webb writes. "[A]t this point we're not sure when the record will come out and in what form. The majority of the controversy is surrounding one song, which I consider to be among the most important songs on the record …. [B]ecause of various legal/publishing issues we're having to be rather careful with how we do what we're going to do next.".
Derek's solo release Stockholm Syndrome was released on his website, derekwebb.com, on July 7, 2009 as a digital release. He has also made physical copies of both the edited and unedited versions of the CD available by September 1, 2009.
On September 3, 2013, Webb released I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You. The album is written as a reflective look back at his 20 years in music as well as 10 years since his first solo release.
While on tour supporting Mockingbird, Webb noticed that attendance at his shows had increased dramatically after he had made Mockingbird available for free online. He explains that for a niche artist, the value of word-of-mouth recommendations greatly exceeds that of the money earned from online music sales, even noting that he sold more albums after it had been made available for free. Therefore, in May 2007, in response to the success of the free distribution of Mockingbird, Webb teamed up with music industry veterans Mark Nicholas, David McCollum, and Brannon McAllister to form NoiseTrade. The site allows users to download music for free from independent artists who use the service.
The site provides a market for an ostensibly mutually agreeable "trade": the consumer will get music for free, in exchange for making "noise" about the artist by sending emails to friends to let them know about the music. (Alternatively, the consumer may pay the price s/he deems fair.) The consumers may also use the site to find new and different kinds of music at no cost, utilizing user recommendations and forums to learn of new artists. The artists are also able to use the ZIP code information collected to help book shows in areas with larger numbers of fans and potential fans.
During the 2008 Republican primaries, Webb officially endorsed Ron Paul's candidacy for United States president. He later caused some controversy during the 2008 presidential election when he, in Patrol Magazine, encouraged his readers not to vote if they felt like they were choosing between the lesser of two evils. He also released the article as an audio track in a free redistribution of his Mockingbird album.
In late 2011 Derek Webb began a "concept band featuring Derek Webb, Josh Moore (Co-producer of Webb’s Stockholm Syndrome and Feedback albums), and Latifah Phillips (of The Autumn Film and Page CXVI), commissioned and inspired by Solomon Mente’s groundbreaking fictional narrative and film, NEXUS. Their debut album, the official motion picture soundtrack for Mente’s NEXUS."
Notes and references
- www.doveawards.com/history/ Gospel Music Awards: Awards History. Retrieved November 6, 2006.[dead link]
- "Christian Music Series Features Concert by Caedmon’s Call" (December 24, 2003). Press Release. Retrieved November 13, 2006.
- Farias, Andree (January 16, 2006). "An Unfiltered Webb." Christianity Today. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- "Derek Webb". Derekwebb.tumblr.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Fisher, Erik J. (March 2, 2013). "Derek Webb talks about creative talent and artistry, business and technology – BTTDL022". Beyond the To Do List (blog). Retrieved July 31, 2013.
- Artist Chart History. Billboard.com. Retrieved November 10, 2006.
- Breimeier, Russ (2001). "In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship." Christianity Today. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- Breimeier, Russ (2003). "Back Home." Christianity Today. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- Breimeier, Russ (2004). "Chronicles." Christianity Today. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- Webb, Derek (2010). "the wonderful/complicated world of caedmon’s call" Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- "The State of Caedmon's Call, May 2007." caedmonscall.net. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
- Janke, Michael (April 20, 2003). "A Wedding Dress Story." CMCentral.com. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- Heikoop, Jessica (2003). "Derek Webb (2003) Interview." Renown Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- "Derek Webb: Mockingbird" (PDF). Press Release. 2005-10. The Media Collective. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
- Underwood, Ryan (September 14, 2006). www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006609140378 "Can You Make Money Giving Away CDs?" Tennessean.com. Retrieved November 6, 2006.[dead link]
- Boucher, Geoff (October 10, 2006). www.calendarlive.com/music/cl-et-christian10oct10,0,1519920.story?coll=cl-music "Pirating Songs of Praise." LATimes.com. Retrieved November 6, 2006.[dead link]
- "‘FREE DEREK WEBB’ CAMPAIGN CLOSES WITH OVER 80,000 DOWNLOADS OF MOCKINGBIRD CD." Press Release. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
- TWO New Derek Webb Projects Coming January 30 Press Release. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
- The Ringing Bell Available for Pre-Order Press Release. Retrieved April 3, 2007
- Webb, Derek. "new album update from derek webb" E-mail to Website Mailing List via Emma (E2MA). May 12, 2009
- "Derek Webb 'I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry, I Love You' Released Yesterday". Christianpost.com. September 4, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Thompson, John J. "The New Music Revolution". Crosswalk. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
- Come on, trade the noise Video. Retrieved May 29, 2007
- Ron Paul EndorsementsBlog. Retrieved February 7, 2008
- Webb, Derek (2008). How Shall We Then Vote? Patrol Magazine. Retrieved November 13, 2008.