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J-ROC and the Musical Legacy of Crane, Texas

Jackie & Daisy Jeffrey of Crane, Texas, July 2014. (Tom Michael/KXWT)

On Saturday night in the Permian Basin, there will be something called a “Leadership Revival” at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center. Panel discussions, music, and interpretive dance.

The John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute is in Odessa. It’s dedicated to serious civic issues. Their annual lecture series has featured presentations from political leaders such as Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove, Mikhail Gorbachev…
…Beyonce, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and the latest Michael Jackson Album, which is called Xscape…
Wait, what? That’s Dr. Robert Brescia, Executive Director of the Leadership Institute, in his office, talking about their upcoming event. On Saturday, they present a little-known West Texas native.
J-Roc is a very interesting fellow. He is currently a music producer in the hip-hop music genre. He was born in Fort Worth and his family moved west to Crane. It turned out that he became famous for producing other people’s music.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, J-Roc added two more trophies to his shelf. He co-wrote and co-produced the Best R&B Song, Pusher Love Girl, by Justin Timberlake, as well as Best Rap Collaboration for Holy Grail’with Jay-Z.

J-Roc has supported top rappers like Shakira, Timbaland, Chris Brown, and Missy Elliot. But back in West Texas in the 1980s, it was Daisy Jeffrey who supported him.
He’s our son, we just adopted him as one of our sons. We had four kids at the time of our own, and then he and another nephew, we just adopted them in as well. Now at one time, there was about ten kids that we fed on a daily basis.
It began in this one-story grey-brick home on Crane Street in Crane Texas. But back, then there was no such thing as J-Roc.

Actually tell you the truth when he was here in school, we called him Leslie, because Leslie is his first name. His full name is Leslie Jerome Harmon.

My name is Daniel Todd – this is my front yard of my house here in Crane. I am the band director at Crane High School. I've been the band director for the last 21 years.

Mr. Todd explains the rich legacy of the band program in Crane and – at a time when small school districts are cutting back - a current investment in the arts.
Starting back when J-Roc was in high school and up to this day – Crane has gotten 31 consecutive sweepstakes awards – and you don’t see that with small 2A bands – And band is just a big thing here. This community supports it. Right now, I believe we are right at 50% of the entire high school is in the high school band, and that's not normal.
And at half-time at a Crane football game, there’s no rush to the concession stand.
No we don’t leave our seats, because everyone want to watch the band, everyone is interested in the band. So, you keep your seat!
After high school, J-Roc went to college in New Mexico. His first break was singing with Kirk Franklin a gospel star in Fort Worth. Now that he’s J-Roc and he’s running with Beyonce and Jay-Z, maybe he’s too big for the little brick house on Crane Street?
Absolutely not. He’s still just as humble and giving as he’s always been. As a matter of fact, when we had the banquet back in March, he gave a closing speech. As big a man he is, he teared up giving that speech, he was just so humbled.
He not only gave a speech at his alma mater, but he also gave 16 thousand dollars in scholarships for students going into the arts. And that, according to Mr. Todd, is the gift that keeps giving.
And I was one of those kids that came from a broken home, and I'm the youngest of four, and the only one to graduate, from high school and I was on the wrong path and it really saved my life.
It’s Wednesday night in Crane, which means it’s a church night for Daisy and Jackie Jeffrey. Prayer session, bible study, and then there’s singing. Gospel is the music they love. At their home you might even catch a country song. But one of J-Roc’s hits? Beyonce’s Drunk Lover? Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie?
Actually I’m not familiar with songs. My kids know it. My grandkids know it. But me personally, no.
Mrs. Jeffrey is still in touch with the boy she took in as her on. They talk every few days. J-Roc has won several Grammy Awards. But you get the sense, sitting on her couch, that Daisy has turned out more than a few winners.
Daisy and her husband, they have taken numerous kids in and I don't know how they managed to do it over the year, they’ve always had a full house. They've been a true blessing to this town and numerous students. J Roc is just one of those kids who is just so appreciative of what they've done.
Former KRTS/KXWT News Director