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Member Moment with Mike Crawford, CPA

January 20, 2022

Throughout his 37-year career as a CPA and beyond it, Mike Crawford's love of music has been a constant influence in his life.

Crawford first became enchanted with music after watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. He proceeded to learn to play the guitar and join a local rock and roll band, Revelation, as their lead singer in 1969.

"[I've] been in love with music ever since, and it has served as both a source of energy and relaxation throughout my life," Crawford said.

Mike Crawford with his band Revelation

Today, Crawford's passion for rock music has found a home on Facebook. In 2020, Crawford and his high school friend, Janna VanMeter, reunited over their appreciation for classic rock music and started Janna & Mike's Classic Rock Song Challenge, a Facebook group to share music and keep them entertained during the early days of COVID-19.

What started as a quarantine hobby developed into weekly song battles with more than 280 online followers.

Each weekend, Janna and Mike select a theme and eight classic rock songs that fit within it. The themes have ranged from songs related to a certain holiday to those with the same release year. Throughout the weekend, the group members vote on their favorite, and the songs dwindle from eight to one champion song. Finally, after eight weeks, the eight previously winning songs compete in the Battle of Champions weekend.

Response to the Facebook group has been greater than Crawford expected and allowed him to discover a previously-undetected shared interest with many of his friends.

"I knew there was a large following of music enthusiasts among my social media friends, but the number of fellow CPAs that were classic rock fans like me was a pleasant surprise," Crawford said.

In fact, the Facebook group includes nine OSCPA members, including: Jimmy Williams, CPA, PFS, CFP; Steve Milam, CPA, PFS; Henry Bickerstaff, CPA; Randy Thurman, CPA, PFS, CFP; Pat Dorr, CPA; Tony Scott, CPA, Esq.; Mike Gibson, CPA; Dwayne Tate, CPA; and Justin Kersey, CPA.

On Aug. 19, 2021, the group met in person for the first time at Janna and Mike's Rock & Roll Meet & Greet in Krebs, Okla. More than 60 group members and guests enjoyed food, live rock music, music trivia contests, gifts and prizes.

Janna and Mike's Rock & Roll Meet & Greet

In addition to using the Facebook group for entertainment and to connect with friends, the group's members have found ways to use the power of music to give back to their community. 

To date, the group has raised $3,675 for Guitars For Vets, a national nonprofit that provides veterans with guitars to help improve symptoms of PTSD and connect with the people around them. 

Crawford recently donated a Daisy Rock electric guitar and amp to the program. The guitar, designed specifically for a female player, was gifted by the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Health Care System to a deserving local veteran.

"The connection between our Facebook group and the Guitars For Vets program is one of the most surprising and rewarding side benefits of this social media fun," Crawford said. "We plan to make this an ongoing charity associated with our group."

Guitars4Vets recipient

Q&A with Mike Crawford, CPA

Wire: Has music served as an outlet for you to relax and make connections outside of work? 
Crawford: Listening to music and playing the guitar has always provided me a necessary outlet to pull away from the stresses of work and relax. I don’t know if I could have managed without this outlet.

Wire: What is your opinion on the importance of work-life balance, are there any aspects you struggled with in your career and are there tactics you used to maintain balance? 
Crawford: Such balance is indeed important to one’s mental health. I did struggle at times with work-life balance. I was so busy and determinedly focused on building my own successful CPA firm from 1984 and for the next 25 years that I often lost sight of the things I really enjoyed doing. It wasn’t until I decided to retire from active practice and sell my shares in the firm to my younger brother, Frank, and our other shareholders at the relatively young age of 53 that I could really relax, reflect and get back to truly enjoying my love of music, including attending concerts, meeting many of my rock and roll idols and collecting, displaying and often sharing/donating a massive amount of rock and roll memorabilia.

Wire: Why do you think the Facebook group and song challenges connected with people and built such a loyal following?
Crawford: First, music plays a major role in the life of so many, and songs are forever linked to certain memories that bring people back to a variety of times and events in their life. Second, the timing for our song challenges and Facebook group was right. At the time we started this activity on social media, many people were isolated indoors and trying to manage boredom resulting from isolation caused by the COVID pandemic.