Guest article by Debbie Stanley
Some of Adrian Croom’s best relationships are completely nonverbal. As a songwriter, composer and producer, he creates captivating instrumental music that is sometimes lavish, sometimes elegantly spare and always evocative.
As a service provider for Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC), he assists clients ages 17-52 who have behavioral health needs and developmental disabilities, and his music is often a fundamental component of his work.
Communicating Without Words
One client, an 18 year old young man named Robbie Morse, has been with Croom for several years and is the inspiration for the song “Morse Code.” Morse does not speak, but Croom has learned to understand his client’s nonverbal communication.
Music is an especially rich topic of engagement between the two. Croom can now anticipate which elements of his own music will be most appealing to Morse. Because he creates all components of his songs, either organically or digitally, Croom can experiment with various tones, pitches and instruments to find those that best help him to connect with his clients.
“Robbie is by far my most cultured kid,” Croom said of Morse. “His parents want him to experience as much art and music as possible, so I take him out to a lot of places.” Destinations such as the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, musician Isaac Pena’s studio and local live music events are favorites, as are local restaurants. “We’ve eaten just about everywhere in town,” Croom joked, “but enchiladas from Amaya’s are his favorite.”
Morse’s parents, Kevin and Catherine Morse, are amazed at Croom’s ability to motivate Robbie. He will often resist going out, but Kevin marvels at the fact that “with the promise of music, Adrian can take Robbie almost anywhere.” The Morses consider Croom essential to their son’s wellbeing and an irreplaceable help to them as well. For caregivers like Croom “to come and bring respite and also grow your child…they’re like saints among us,” Kevin Morse asserted.
Living the Dream as a Working Musician
Croom, a native Austinite, has found an ideal balance between his “day job” and his music. As an independent contractor with ATCIC, he is able to set his own hours, which allows him time for creating music, managing the business aspects of his catalog and playing the occasional gig with his friend Ira Henderson as the duo Virgin Shores.
Croom has also collaborated with other skilled local talents including Whiskey Jonez, Roberto Riggio (Atash), engineer Travis Bonner, Isaac Pena (Trio Los Vigilantes), Jon McMahan (Caspian) and producer Tim Moore.
Croom has three albums to his credit so far, all of which are available on iTunes, and his music can be heard on Pandora as well. He has also had success licensing his music for film, a growing revenue stream for contemporary independent artists.
John Aielli is a fan and has welcomed Croom to his KUTX-FM show “Eklektikos” multiple times. Among Aielli’s reflections on Croom: “Just you wait. Hans Zimmer move aside!…You have a really good sense of what makes music, the melodies, the harmonies, the rhythms and percussion are all very strong.”
While some musicians measure success by how frequently they play out or how much recognition they receive in the media, Croom is content with the career he’s constructing outside of those realms. “I’m building my brand, which is just myself,” he noted. “I’m not trying to ‘make it’…I’m making it.”
Learn more about Adrian Croom at AdrianCroom.com and catch him at Cherrywood Coffeehouse for a rare DJ set November 16. 2014 between 12-2 PM during the East Austin Studio Tour.
Debbie Stanley, president of Thoughts In Order, helps clients in the music industry and beyond to get and keep their act together.
What do you think of Adrian Croom’s nontraditional music career?