Bill met Helen in early 1952 while working as youth director at a local church. The two met at a youth rally where Helen was a member of a Denison, Texas congregation.
One night, Bill's church threw a birthday party in his honor. Helen was there and managed to "forget" a perfumed handkerchief, left behind in Bill's car. The next evening, Bill showed up at Helen's door; hanky in hand.
On July 1, 1953, they were wed. It was, according to those who have come to know them best, "a marriage made in heaven."
Not long after the honeymoon, Bill was transferred to Idabel, Oklahoma where he worked delivering milk for Colvert Dairy. He was known as the "singing milkman." Bill and Helen had a singing show on the local radio station called "The Bill and Helen Gospel Show."
After returning to Durant, the couple hosted another radio program, "Songs of Inspiration," sponsored by a local automobile dealership. By then, Debbie and Kathy had come along and were actively singing with mom & dad. Debbie was coming along on the piano and Kathy was learning to play the mandolin.
In 1969, cured of cancer, by what he believes to be a miracle, Bill remains humble about his mission in life. "God gave our family a talent to sing. If we can help inspire others with that talent, we are doing His work. That's what makes us the happiest people in the world," he explained. Bill shared his story of going through the "valley of the shadow of death". Just when their singing careers were starting to look up, Bill, at the age of 34, got a big dose of bad news - he'd been diagnosed as having cancer that had spread to the lymphatic system and blood vessels. Bill's family physician told him there was nothing more he could do for him. All-night prayer vigils were conducted at churches all across the region. Family & close friends prayed, too, that Bill's life would be spared from what had been described as a slow and painful death. An ambulance eventually transported Bill, who was getting sicker by the minute, to Oklahoma City for treatment by Dr. William Perry, one of the nation's highest rated cancer surgeons. For almost 12 hours, Perry performed exploratory surgery on Bill, looking for the cancerous tissues and organs that doctors said were ravaging his body. Perry stepped from the operating room, a puzzled look on his face. Even though numerous tests and more than one medical opinion had told otherwise, Perry could find no trace of cancer. During the 10 days Bill spent recovering in the intensive care unit, he decided he must take the news of his remarkable story to others.
He and wife Helen's love of gospel music seemed like the logical outlet for his good news. The family began traveling in a station wagon, visiting one church after another. In 1969, they decided gospel music was what the Lord intended they do, so, they bought a Greyhound-bus and hit the road full-time. Their music filled churches and auditoriums coast to coast and even into Canada and Mexico. The pre-booked, two to four-month tours kept the Pierots in a different city, and sometimes a different state, each night. During these concerts, they performed alongside some of America's best known gospel artists, such as the Imperials, Florida Boys, Happy Goodmans, Wendy Bagwell and The Sunliters, The LeFevres, Oakridge Boys, The Rambos, Naomi and the Sego Brothers, Stamps Quartet. After the Pierots were invited to give a concert in the Goodman's home church in Madisonville, Kentucky, Howard Goodman did a backliner on a long play for the Pierots. The tours continued, their popularity soared, and upon a special invitation of the agency responsible for booking talent, the group took to the stage of The Grand Old Opry and many other high-profile venues. In 1975, the group took to another stage, this one in Atoka County in Oklahoma for a two-day concert in which they were the only gospel group billed. The talent agency that handled the bookings for the event called Bill to ask for their appearance on the show. When Bill asked why the Singing Pierot Family and not some better known group, the answer was "we intend to draw from 4 metropolitan areas, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Tulsa and Okla. City. We put polls out in these areas, one question was: what gospel group would you most like to hear." By far the majority said "The Singing Pierot Family." The Oklahoma Highway Patrol officially estimated the crowd at 40,000 plus. While the rowdy crowd listened to such famous artists as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker and Reba McIntire, The Singing Pierots never doubted their prayerful decision to accept a segment on the program. During their performance, Willie Nelson enjoying their music so much that he could no longer stand on the sidelines, joined the Pierots on stage. Even though they would be later criticized for singing before "a throng of drunken heathens," those who were casting stones didn't see the crowd's standing ovation or hear its thunderous cheers during the Singing Pierots' performance.
Tens of thousands have had the opportunity to hear the talents of the Singing Pierots. Their following of fans stretches not only throughout the United States, but Europe, as well. In the Pierots' scrap book is a letter from a DJ in London, England requesting their music for air play. The envelope is taped to a page and beside it is the letter. The scrap book has numerous mementos from many interesting experiences; such as the clipping from a newspaper about the Singing Pierots helping capture a car thief in Florida, the title was "Pierots have gone to the Dogs". It was titled as such because the dog of the cars' rightful owner was inside the car that was stolen. Another item in the scrapbook would be a letter from Charlie Pride with a gospel song he wrote and would like for the Pierots to record it.
Recently Bill and Helen joined Debbie, Kathy and Grandson, Sean, in the recording studio for another album of gospel favorites. The album "Reunion" was recorded at Debbie's studio "Millennium Sound Lab" in Dallas, TX and has 15 songs on it. Debbie Pierot-Crawford arranged and produced this album. Daughters Debbie and Kathy are playing keyboards and singing. Grandson, Sean Welborn, is singing bass and playing drums on selected songs. Adding to the lineup of talent are musicians of the "Blue Country" band (LeAnne Rimes band). This album was mixed and mastered by engineer/producer Phil York. Two of his long list of credits would be a #1 Grammy award winning single and 4 gold albums for Willie Nelson. This work is included in the "Celebrating the Legacy" project. Phil also remastered the earlier music found on the "Legacy" project.
Since coming off the road full-time, Bill and Helen have continued to witness for Christ with their melodious harmonies. They now travel in a motor home. On a limited-schedule basis, Bill & Helen continue bringing their musical-form of inspiration to churches."if we touch just one heart ... bring joy to just one soul during one of our performances, God has blessed us. That's what it's all about," Helen said. "Amen," Bill added with a smile, holding out his hand for a warm, friendly shake.
Debbie and Kathy are successful business women and, along with their careers, have continued involvement in the music industry. Debbie has been instrumental in the careers of many up and coming artists in many genres. Her vocal coaching, arranging, musicianship and studio producer talents are well known across the region. In addition to the music, Kathy's creative talents include graphical artistry and web developing. You can enjoy her work on the presentation of their latest project. Grandson, Sean, is busy with his Chiropractic career. Through his multi-talents, he also stays active in music playing drums, stringed instruments and singing.
As the new project testifies, in each their own way, they are truly continuing to "Celebrate the Legacy".