Derek Walsh Webb (born May 27, 1974 in Memphis, Tennessee) 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 #1 Christian radio hits.
In 2003, Webb left Caedmon's Call to pursue a solo career. Since his departure, he has released four studio albums as well as a live album and a DVD. 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 be exactly how he wants it.
On May 22, 2007, it was announced that Webb had re-joined Caedmon's Call, writing and recording for their upcoming album, entitled Overdressed, and would be joining the band on their subsequent tour.
Webb currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, fellow singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken. He is also a member of the Square Peg Alliance, a group of 9 musicians and friends who have banded together for the purpose of cross-promotion.
Webb graduated from Klein High School in Klein, TX in 1992. He was active in Young Life and spent a month working at Young Life's Frontier Ranch in 1999.
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.
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 2003, after the successful release of Back Home, Webb left the band to pursue his solo career. The following year, Caedmon's Call released Chronicles 1992-2004 (2004), a best-of collection of the band's work, which included work by Webb. Most recently, Caedmon's Call has signed onto INO Records, allowing Webb to rejoin the band for their newly-released album Overdressed.
Derek Webb performing live in Asheville, NC in November 2007.
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 actually 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).
Derek Webb and wife Sandra McCracken performing in Asheville, NC in November 2007.
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 albums, 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 12 May 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 publish. "It seems I've finally found the line beyond which my label can support me, and apparently I've crossed it," Webb writes. "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 ?. 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 7th, 2009 as a digital release. He has also made physical copies of both the edited and unedited versions of the CD available by September 1st, 2009.
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.com. The site allows users to download music for free from independent artists who use the service.
The site will provide 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 will also be able to use the ZIP code information collected to help book shows in areas with larger numbers of fans and potential fans.
Derek Webb is involved in the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms.
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.