- January 10, 2014
- By Jonathan Petty / Wayland Baptist University
PLAINVIEW—Few economics and finance majors find their calling in music, but Dusty Ledbetter defies stereotypes.
Ledbetter, a 25-year-old Wayland Baptist University senior, serves as youth pastor at First Baptist Church in New Home, and he and his wife, Nina, are raising their 9-month old son, Eli. While his education, ministry and family keep him busy, Ledbetter also maintains a passion for spreading the gospel through music as front man for the band Climbing Blind.
Ledbetter and his band mates, Zach Simmons and Tristan Holaday, recently finished recording their second single that will be released early this year. The band’s first single, “You Alone,” is climbing its way up the Christian music charts.
Ledbetter sees the second single as a chance for the band to legitimize its status as an up-and-coming group and put together a production team that will allow them to tour.
Ledbetter grew up in Midland, living with his mother and grandparents. His teenage years grew difficult when he surrendered to bad influences.
“I was involved in a lot of crazy things in school,” he said.
But each summer, he spent time with his father in Lubbock, where he attended youth camps and church functions.
'God really got hold of me'
“The summer after my junior year, God really got hold of me,” Ledbetter said. “Instead of going back and fight living the good life in a bad situation, I just decided to move with my dad and try to start new with new friends and everything.”
Ledbetter’s youth pastor at New Horizon Baptist Church in Lubbock, Jeremy Walker, encouraged him to enroll at Wayland Baptist University. After one semester, however, Ledbetter dropped out of school due to a lack of scholarship funds. Then family issues kept him from enrolling for the next term.
After three years away from school, another tug from God led him to consider continuing his education.
“I understood that God wanted me to do something with ministry, but I didn’t necessarily have to have a religion degree to get it done,” he said. “A lot of pastors are bivocational anyway.”
His return to school started a three-year journey that finds him on the brink of a music career.
Ledbetter noted his father’s side of the family always has been musical, and he “messed around with band” a few years, playing every instrument he could get his hands on.
When his mother brought him a guitar, he taught himself to play.
His love of music continued to grow as he played in the praise team at New Horizon Baptist Church during his senior year in high school. It continued into his college years when he played music with other students and led Disciple Now events.
At one youth event, Ledbetter met a fellow musician who also lived in Lubbock, and they began playing together. When the pair began to perform, they decided they needed a stage name. Both liked the story of Zaccheaus, but they couldn’t think of a band name that referenced the story. Ledbetter’s mother suggested Climbing Blind.
“We settled on that,” Ledbetter said, but the group in its original form didn’t last long, since his friend found other avenues to occupy his time.
“Not too long after that, he got his first girlfriend, who he is now married to, and he fell off the face of the earth,” Ledbetter explained.
One Sunday, Ledbetter visited Oakwood Baptist Church, where he made an immediate connection with some college students. During lunch, the students talked about their musical inclinations, then they returned to church for an afternoon jam session in the youth department. Ledbetter told his new friends about a festival he and his former Climbing Blind band mate had been booked to play.
Formation of the current band
“I asked them if they wanted to play,” he said. “They said yes. We played that, and there was no intention of doing anything other than that.”
But their appearance at the festival led to invitations to play at other events.
“After about a year, we all really started to understand that God was doing something bigger than us just playing around,” Ledbetter said. “He really wanted us to do this more often.”
The group met a producer in Tennessee who began working with them to fine-tune their musical product. Last May, Climbing Blind recorded “You Alone,” a song written by Ledbetter. He also wrote the new song the group recorded in November.
Climbing Blind spent the first two weeks in December on the road with a group of artists, touring Texas and sharing their faith—the ultimate goal for Ledbetter and his friends.
“We are not going to be big and flashy,” he said. “We are going to proclaim the gospel. We are just praying that we get to continue to do that.”