If you don’t know of Milwaukee musician Chris Crain, you should. The church musician, R&B singer, and multi-instrumentalist has overcome a lot to get where he is. Crain was born with brachial plexus palsy which prevents his left hand and arm from functioning fully.
Crain’s latest album is called Simple Man Thoughts, but he’s not performing his own music tonight and tomorrow at the Marcus Center. Rather, he and a whole roster of Milwaukee musicians will be channeling the work of Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway in a concert called “A Soulful Celebration.” The concerts are a benefit for The Better Project Awareness Foundation, which Crain created to raise awareness of brachial plexus palsy and fund a series of summer camps to teach kids the basics of music.
"I'm a living witness that if you put your mind to it, you can do it. Like, I play piano and I play guitar and I play bass guitar and I play drums and all of the instruments that I'm not supposed to be able to play because you need two, full hands, right? You need full use of your arm and you need dexterity and all of that, and I don't have that in my left hand, but when you hear me play you'd never know it," says Crain.
He continues, "My goal is: if I'm going to play the instrument, I don't want sympathy and I don't want to sound worse than this other guy, just because I have a birth defect."