As a vocalist, Eric Crouch is a great football player.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
Nevertheless, he recorded a song, “Under the 10th Street Bridge,” as a fundraiser about 20 years ago, during the height of his days as a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the Nebraska football team. Then he sort of forgot about it.
“Trust me, it was for charity,” he said. “It was very humbling. I have no singing talents.”
The writer of that song begs to differ. Karen Sokolof Javitch, who has recorded a number of CDs over her career, is including Crouch’s effort in “Nebraska Celebrities Sing for Sight — Vol. II,” a new compilation to benefit the Nebraska Foundation for Visually Impaired Children.
She’s having a concert and release party Feb. 23 at the Ware House Studio, where the CD was made. Other notable Nebraskans on the recording include actor John Beasley, former Sen. Ben Nelson, Omaha fashion icon Elaine Jabenis, the Maynard triplets and former World-Herald columnist Mike Kelly. Most of the cuts on the album have been recorded over many years, though some are recent efforts.
Javitch wrote all of the songs, and she’s dedicating the CD to the person who arranged all of them, the late Chuck Penington, who was her mentor. He was widely known in the area and beyond as a composer, conductor and musician. He was a keyboardist and conductor with Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller for 30 years.
She said she chose juvenile blindness as her cause because she taught visually impaired kids before she became a songwriter, following in the footsteps of her mom, the late Ruth Sokolof.
The party will feature some of the artists. Kelly and Jabenis (who’s 98) are among those attending.
Crouch’s song grew out of a conversation Javitch had with a friend — Crouch’s stepfather, Cory Sanchez, a singer and actor who has performed across the city. It’s actually about the Omaha bridge near the Durham Museum.
“We were talking once, and (Sanchez) said, ‘When I was a kid, I used to go to the bridge and sit there and just be alone and think about everything,’ ” Javitch said. “It turned into a song about a kid whose father goes to war.”
She said Crouch’s voice has a nice tone, though he wasn’t on key all the time. For his part, Crouch said he had no vocal experience before the recording session — no high school chorus or anything like that. Javitch said Crouch sounds great on the CD, thanks in part to recording engineer Tom Ware.
Since it’s been a few years, Crouch has only vague memories of the recording sessions. He’s pretty sure it took more than one try — maybe even four downs.
“I wasn’t a one-take Jake, or whatever they call it,” he said.
Making the song was one thing, but he also had to perform it live (though he won’t be at the Feb. 23 party). He was used to passing and running in front of nearly 90,000 people each Saturday on the football field, but singing in front of a crowd was daunting.
“I really stepped out of my comfort zone quite a bit,” he said. “But I enjoyed the experience. It helped me overcome my fears of being in front of people. At that age, 19 or 20, it’s really easy to say no to things. I’m glad I didn’t.”