Gospel legend Andrae Crouch dies at age 72

Seventy-two year-old gospel legend, Andraé Crouch, died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in L.A. on Thursday afternoon after suffering a heart attack. In the trailblazing tradition of Thomas Dorsey, along with contemporaries like Rev. Walter Hawkins and Rev. James Cleveland, Crouch helped revolutionize and modernize gospel music in both production techniques and by bridging the Black gospel sound with the white contemporary Christian music of the times. Crouch is widely considered the “Father of Modern Gospel Music.”

Seventy-two year-old gospel legend, Andraé Crouch, died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in L.A. on Thursday afternoon after suffering a heart attack. In the trailblazing tradition of Thomas Dorsey, along with contemporaries like Rev. Walter Hawkins and Rev. James Cleveland, Crouch helped revolutionize and modernize gospel music in both production techniques and by bridging the Black gospel sound with the white contemporary Christian music of the times. Crouch is widely considered the “Father of Modern Gospel Music.”

Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, Crouch performed and penned gospel hits that would go on to become the standards of the contemporary church as well as part of the American songbook, such as: “Through It All,” “Jesus Is The Answer,” “Bless His Holy Name,” “Soon And Very Soon,” “My Tribute (To God Be The Glory),” and his first hit with the gospel group, The Church of God in Christ Singers (The COGICS), “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” With a slew of other music stars, though most often with The Andraé Crouch Singers, Crouch also appeared on such seminal secular albums as Michael Jackson’s Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory: Past, Present and Future on the classics “Man in the Mirror,” “Earth Song,” “Keep The Faith,” and “Will You Be There.” He also proved influential and pivotal in the early careers of such crossover gospel artists at Light Records as The Winans, Jessy Dixon, and Walter and Tramaine Hawkins. 

As a frontman and singer/songwriter, Crouch is associated with such early iconic groups as The COGICS with Billy Preston, the unofficial fifth Beatle, and The Disciples, formed with Perry Morgan and Bili Thedford; writing the song that catapulted these groups to not just gospel fame but pop fame. Signed to Light Records, Andraé Crouch and The Disciples recorded their first album in 1968, Take The Message Everywhere. Released the next year, Take The Message Everywhere became a hit, others quickly followed. Taking the message to global levels unseen before him, Crouch and his group, which eventually included his twin sister and gospel star in her own right, Sandra Crouch, went on to repeatedly star on national TV, including The Tonight Show, and toured around the world, filling such marquee venues as Carnegie Hall (which spawned the 1973 smash, Live at Carnegie Hall) and The Hollywood Bowl.

In 1979 after The Disciples disbanded, The Andraé Crouch Singers were born and continued to record albums for Light, Qwest, and Verity Records, culminating with 2013’s Live in Los Angeles for Riverphlo Entertainment. A star by the end of The Disciples’ run, Crouch would go on to record with artists as diverse as Shelia E., TáTa Vega, Chaka Khan, El Debarge, Stevie Wonder, and Philip Bailey. He also co-produced projects with Bill Maxwell for The Winans, Kristle Murden, and Danniebelle Hall, and produced or arranged works for a who’s who of stars, including: Madonna, Elton John, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Quincy Jones. As a songwriter and arranger his work appeared in such films as The Lion King, The Color Purple (for which he received an Academy Award nomination), and Once Upon A Forest. He also wrote and arranged the theme song for the long-running hit comedy show Amen. In 1995, he also was featured in the docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

A seven-time Grammy award winner, Crouch also won ASCAP, Billboard, NAACP Image, and GMA Dove Awards. By 2004, Crouch was also one of only three gospel artists to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A Grammy-winning tribute album in his honor of Crouch standards was also released on Warner Bros. Records in 2003, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch, featuring such artists as Take 6, Michael W. Smith, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

The San Francisco born, L.A. bred son of a pastor, Crouch and his twin sister Sandra took over Senior Pastor duties at the New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in San Fernanco, California, a church founded by his parents and early encouragers of his prodigious talent. A lifelong dyslexic who overcame his learning disability to become one of the most respected gospel artists of the modern era, Crouch survived multiple bouts of cancer and diabetes. Recently canceling his Let The Church Say Amen Celebration tour, Crouch had of late been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure, before ultimately succumbing last night to “serious health complications.” Survived by his twin sister and co-pastor, Sandra Crouch, Andraé Crouch died at the age of 72.

By L. Michael Gipson

 
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