Grammy-winning gospel artist Andrae Crouch, a gospel musician who bridged the worlds of church and mainstream music for more than 50 years, died Thursday afternoon.
The 72-year-old singer, songwriter and choir director and Los Angeles native, had been hospitalized since Saturday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in the Los Angeles area after suffering a heart attack and died about 4:30 p.m from complications of his situation according to Brian Mayes.
“Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord,” his twin sister, Sandra Crouch, said in statement. “Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.”
Crouch, sometimes called “the father of modern gospel music,” led the choirs that sang on such hits as Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror and Madonna’sLike a Prayer. As a songwriter, he wrote several gospel favorites, most notably The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, My Tribute (To God Be the Glory) and Soon and Very Soon, a song sung at Jackson’s public memorial service. He also worked as a producer and arranger for such artists as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John and Diana Ross.
On 5th of January 2015, a few days to his demise, Crouch’s twin sister show her appreciation to all believers and fans for their support in prayers and encouraged all to keep the faith up in prayer. She posted on his official Facebook page saying: “Andraé Crouch, who was hospitalized on January 3rd, has had some positive response to the medical attention that has been given to him. The medical team has given some encouraging news and we are so grateful for the many thousands of people who are praying on behalf of my brother.” With the continued medical attention and your prayers, we are trusting the Lord for a full recovery.
Crouch’s “Let the Church Say Amen” Celebration Tour was postponed last month due to illness.
The Man Andraé Crouch
Although he had studied elementary education in college and worked as a counselor for recovering drug abusers, he was driven to a musical career. Crouch formed a group called Andraé Crouch & the Disciples, in 1965, eventually signing to a contemporary Christian label, Light Recordsand released his first album, “Take the Message Everywhere,” in 1971. In 1972 he launched his solo career with “Just Andrae” while continuing to tour with the Disciples, including sold-out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1975 and 1979.
A San Francisco native who grew up in the Church of God in Christ, Crouch wrote his first gospel tune at age 14. By 1960, he had formed the Church of God in Christ Singers, a group that featured Billy Preston on keyboards. Crouch brought a contemporary pop and R&B melodic sensibility to gospel, making him uniquely suited to appeal to both black and white audiences during the early days of the counter-cultural “Jesus movement” and also bringing him attention beyond the church.
Legendary Elvis Presley, recorded Crouch’s I’ve Got Confidence for his 1972 gospel album He Touched Me, and Paul Simon recorded his Jesus Is the Answer on 1974’s Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’. Crouch also became the go-to vocal arranger for Los Angeles recording sessions that needed a gospel sound, working not only with Jackson and Madonna but also Elton John, Quincy Jones, The Commodores, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr.
Crouch and the Disciples won the first of several Grammy Awards in 1978. By the early 1980s his success at merging gospel music with pop was drawing criticism as well as plaudits. He won five Grammys, had a Gold Record for “Jesus Is the Answer,” was the Soul Gospel Artist for Billboard Magazine in 1975 and 1977 and won a Dove Award in 1978 also.
In an interview with The Times in 1982 he relieved that “Many church traditionalists “do think my music is trash,” and continued by saying “That doesn’t bother me,” Crouch said then. “I’m going to do what I think is right. Every song I’ve written takes you through the scriptures and reinforces the word of God. I give people a beautiful message, but I do it with pop, rock, funk, jazz or disco or anything that will make it appealing.”
Crouch’s gospel albums often featured guests from the R&B and jazz worlds, including Stevie Wonder, El DeBarge, Wilton Felder and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey. Chaka Khan, Sheila E. and vocal group Take 6 appeared on his most recent album, 2011’s The Journey.
His recordings brought him seven Grammys, and Crouch also received an Academy Award nomination for his arranging work on the 1985 film The Color Purple.
He took over as pastor at his father’s Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima in the mid-1990s, after both his parents and his brother died within months of each other. Attendance at the church soared. In 1998, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Assn.’s Hall of Fame in Nashville.
That year he also defied his Church of God in Christ denomination’s ban on ordaining women by making his sister Sandra a co-pastor of his father’s Pacoima church, which they renamed the New Christ Memorial Church. “With the problems that young people have, God wants to use everybody who has the Word in them,” he said at the time. “God is pulling out every stop.”
Throughout his life, Crouch struggled with dyslexia, sometimes memorizing words by the shapes of their combination of letters. He often drew simple pictures to help him comprehend words and write songs. His sister, Sandra Crouch, served as his spokeswoman, and the siblings were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, Calif., carrying on a work begun by their parents.
Crouch survived multiple bouts with cancer and also suffered from diabetes. In early December, Crouch was hospitalized with pneumonia and congestive heart failure, forcing the cancellation of his Let the Church Say Amen Celebration tour, which had been scheduled to begin Dec. 6 in Philadelphia. He was re-admitted to the hospital Saturday with what his sister characterized in a statement as “serious health complications.”
Crouch is survived by his twin sister, Sandra.