Andraé Edward Crouch (July 1, 1942 – January 8, 2015) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. Referred to as "the father of modern gospel music" by contemporary Christian and gospel music professionals, Crouch was known for his compositions "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "Soon and Very Soon". In secular music, he was known for his collaborative work during the 1980s and 1990s with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Quincy Jones, as well as conducting choirs that sang on the Michael Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Crouch was noted for his talent of incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music he grew up with. His efforts in this area helped pave the way for early American contemporary Christian music during the 1960s and 1970s.
Crouch's original music arrangements were heard in the films The Color Purple and Disney's The Lion King, as well as the NBC television series Amen. Awards and honors received by him include seven Grammy Awards, induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Andraé Edward Crouch was born, along with his twin sister, Sandra, on July 1, 1942 in San Francisco, California to parents Benjamin and Catherine (née Hodnett) Crouch. When he was young, Crouch's parents owned and operated Crouch Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business, as well as a restaurant business in Los Angeles, California. In addition to running the family's businesses, Crouch's parents also had a Christian street-preaching ministry and a hospital and prison ministry. When Crouch was 11, his father was invited to speak for several weeks at a small church as a guest preacher. Crouch's father and the church's congregation encouraged the young boy to play during the services. At the piano, Crouch found the key in which the congregation was singing and started to play. After this, Crouch honed his piano-playing skills and, in time, wanted to write his own music. When he was 14 years old, he wrote his first Gospel song.
Crouch's first group musical effort was formed in 1960 as the Church of God in Christ Singers. The group included future recording artist and session musician Billy Preston on keyboards and was the first to record Crouch's song "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power". The song's popularity grew following the initial 1969 recording, becoming a standard in churches and hymnals worldwide. While attending Valley Junior College in the San Fernando Valley to become a teacher, he formed gospel music group "The Disciples" in 1965 with fellow musicians Perry Morgan, Reuben Fernandez, and Bili Thedford. The group became a frequent attraction at "Monday Night Sing" concerts in southern California put on by Audrey Mieir, a Christian minister and music composer who frequently sponsored new Christian music groups. Following Mieir's introduction of Crouch to Manna Music Publishing's founders Tim and Hal Spencer, Manna published Crouch's song "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", written when he was 15 years old. The Spencers helped launch Crouch's recording career by introducing them to Light Records founder and prolific Christian songwriter Ralph Carmichael. After the addition of Sherman Andrus to The Disciples, Light Records recorded and released the group's first album, Take the Message Everywhere, in 1968. Following the group's first album release, Crouch's twin sister, Sandra, joined The Disciples in 1970 after Fernandez' departure. Two more albums would follow, Keep On Singin' and Soulfully, before a major change in the group's lineup in 1972.
When Sherman Andrus left the Disciples to join the Imperials he was replaced by singer Danniebelle Hall. More musicians were being added and the group's membership by the early 70s included Fletch Wiley on trumpet, Harlan Rogers on keyboards, Hadley Hockensmith on guitar, and Bill Maxwell on drums. The group appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1972 and to sold out crowds at Carnegie Hall in 1975 and 1979. By 1985 they had also performed at the Hollywood Bowl and toured 68 countries. Crouch's most popular songs from this period include "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "Through It All", "Bless His Holy Name", "Soon and Very Soon", "Jesus is the Answer", and "My Tribute".
After The Disciples disbanded in 1979, Crouch continued on with a solo career. His backing ensemble included Howard Smith, Linda McCrary, Táta Vega, and Kristle Murden, along with The Andraé Crouch Singers. Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Dean Parks, David Paich, Phillip Bailey, Stevie Wonder, El Debarge, and other secular artists were included in Crouch's recording sessions. With former Disciples drummer-turned-producer Bill Maxwell, Crouch co-produced projects for The Winans, Danniebelle Hall, and Kristle Murden. Many musical acts and solo performers covered his more popular works, including Elvis Presley with I've Got Confidence. In 1986, Crouch composed the theme music for the Sherman Hemsley sitcom Amen, sung by Vanessa Bell Armstrong.
In 2006 Crouch released Mighty Wind, a 40th anniversary album featuring guest performances by Lauren Evans, Crystal Lewis, Karen Clark Sheard, Táta Vega, and Marvin Winans.
Crouch has been credited as a key figure in Jesus music of the 1960s and 1970s and, as a result, helping to bring about contemporary Christian music into the church. As well, he is also credited with helping to bridge the gap between black and white Christian music and revolutionizing the sound of urban Gospel music. Though sometimes criticized for diluting the Christian message by using contemporary music styles, his songs have become staples in churches and hymnals around the world and have been recorded by mainstream artists such as Elvis Presley and Paul Simon.
His affiliation with Light Records was instrumental in bringing Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, Jessy Dixon and The Winans to the label, from where they all enjoyed successful gospel music careers.
In 1996, Crouch and his music were honored on the Grammy Award-winning CD, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch, released by Warner Bros. Records. The album featured a wide range of artists performing Crouch's classic songs and featured the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Take 6, Twila Paris, and Michael W. Smith.
Crouch and his sister Sandra had a friendship and music relationship with Michael Jackson. In 1987, the Andraé Crouch Choir sang background vocals along with Siedah Garrett and The Winans on Jackson's hit single "Man in the Mirror" from the Bad album. The Andraé Crouch Singers were also featured on the songs "Keep the Faith" and "Will You Be There" from Jackson's 1991 Dangerous album. On Jackson's HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I project in 1995, the Andraé Crouch Choir is heard on "Earth Song." They are also heard on "Morphine" from HIStory's remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, and one last time on "Speechless" from the Invincible album. Crouch's composition, "Soon and Very Soon" was performed by the Andraé Crouch Choir at the public memorial service for Jackson held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 7, 2009.
On November 12, 1982, Crouch was arrested in Los Angeles for possession of cocaine after being stopped for erratic driving. Sheriff's deputies discovered a substance in the vehicle which Crouch said was instant chicken soup powder. After consenting to a search, he was found to be carrying a vial of cocaine in his pocket. Crouch was arrested and released several hours later on $2,500 bail, maintaining the drugs belonged to a friend who had been staying in his apartment. Police declined to press charges.
Between 1993 and 1994, Crouch suffered the loss of his father, mother, and older brother. After his father's death, Crouch and his sister took over the shared duty of senior pastor at the church his parents founded, Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, California.
Failing health and death
In early December 2014, Crouch was hospitalized for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. As a result, his December 2014 tour was postponed. He was hospitalized again on January 3, 2015, in Los Angeles, as the result of a heart attack.
On January 8, 2015, Crouch died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. He was 72. On the same day, his sister, Sandra, released the following statement: "Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."
Following Crouch's death, Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith told Billboard Magazine, "...I'll never forget hearing Andraé for the first time. It was like someone had opened a whole new world of possibilities for me musically. I don't think there is anyone who inspired me more, growing up, than Andraé Crouch. The depth of his influence on Christian music is incalculable. We all owe him so much and I'll forever be grateful for the times we got to work together."
Andraé Crouch and The Disciples
1969: Take the Message Everywhere (Light)
1971: Keep on Singin' (Light)
1972: Soulfully (Light)
1973: Live at Carnegie Hall (Light)
1975: Take Me Back (Light)
1976: This Is Another Day (Light)
1978: Live in London (Light)
1973: Just Andrae (Light)
1979: I'll Be Thinking of You (Light)
1981: Don't Give Up (Warner Bros.)
1982: Finally (Light)
1984: No Time to Lose (Light)
1986: Autograph (Light)
1994: Mercy (Qwest)
1997: Pray (Qwest)
1998: Gift of Christmas (Qwest)
2006: Mighty Wind (Verity)
2011: The Journey (Riverphlo Entertainment)
2013: Live in Los Angeles
Crouch later worked as a producer or arranger with Michael Jackson, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Mika (We Are Golden), Diana Ross, Elton John, Rick Astley ("Cry for Help") and Prefab Sprout. Crouch also had a long relationship with the Oslo Gospel Choir, which he occasionally produced, arranged for and performed with.
Crouch won numerous awards throughout his career that included seven Grammy Awards and four GMA Dove Awards. He was also the recipient of ASCAP, Billboard, and NAACP Awards. In 2004, he became the only living Gospel artist – and just the third in history – to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On November 11, 2011, Sandra and Andrae Crouch were granted an honorary "Artist-in-Residence" Award by the International Center of Worship for Global Day of Worship Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.
Crouch has won seven Grammys:
1975: Best Soul Gospel Performance – Take Me Back
1978: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album – Live in London
1979: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album – I'll Be Thinking of You
1980: Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational – "The Lord's Prayer" (collaborative)
1981: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album – Don't Give Up
1984: Best Soul Gospel Performance, Male – "Always Remember"
1994: Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album – Mercy
GMA Dove Awards
Soul/Black gospel album
1977 – This is another day(Light)
1978 – Live in London (Light)Contemporary gospel album of the year
1985 – No Time to Lose (Light)
1998 – Pray (Qwest/Warner Bros.)Traditional gospel album of the year
1993 – With all of my heart; Sandra Crouch and Friends (Sparrow)Contemporary gospel recorded song of the year
1997 – "Take me back"; Tribute – The Songs of Andrae Crouch (songwriter) (Warner Alliance)Inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998
1985: Oscar nomination for music compositions featured in The Color Purple
1997: Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music
2005: NARAS' Inaugural Salute to Gospel Music Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
2007: Christian Music Hall of Fame and Museum inductee
2012: How Sweet the Sound Living Legend Award
1985: The Color Purple songwriter: "Maybe God's Trying to Tell You Something"
1993: Once Upon a Forest songwriter: "He's Gone/He's Back"
1994: The Lion King arranger and choral conductor
1980: Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters special guest
1982: The Jeffersons "Men of the Cloth" episode
1982: SCTV Network 90 Christmas special
1986: Amen theme writer, arranger
1994: In Search of Dr. Seuss as Yertle the Turtle
1998: Nickelodeon's Cousin Skeeter
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Andraé Crouch at AllMusic