Our Tribute to Andraé Crouch: The father of Modern Gospel

You get a measure of the impact the late Andraé Crouch had on gospel music and popular culture by the fact that US President, Barack Obama, issued a statement following his death on January 8, aged 72, when Andraé Crouch passed away after experiencing complications upon suffering a cardiac arrest.

The statement read: “As a leading pioneer of contemporary gospel music, the soulful classics that Pastor Crouch created over the years have uplifted the hearts and minds of several generations, and his timeless influence continues to be felt not only in gospel, but in a variety of music genres. We are grateful that his music and spirit will continue to live on for years to come, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fans during this time.”

Others who paid tribute to Crouch included: Bishop TD Jakes, Marvin Winans, Rick Warren, Donnie McClurkin and The Clark Sisters. His passing was even covered on the Daily Mail’s website, one of the world’s most read internet news outlets.

To many, Crouch is the father of contemporary gospel music. During the 1960s-80s, Crouch’s music provided young believers of all backgrounds with Christian-inspired songs like Through it All, To God Be The Glory, Jesus Is The Answer, and I’ll Be Thinking of You, which were teemed with modern sounds, like jazz, funk, soul, r’n’b and, of course, gospel.

Crouch was a seven times Grammy Award winner, and such was his exceptional talent – he wrote his first song, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, when he was just 14 – he became the go-to person for artists who needed a gospel sound on their projects. His singers were featured on Madonna’s single, Like A Prayer, and Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror. He also contributed to the soundtrack of The Color Purple and Disney’s Lion King. Artists who covered his songs included Elvis Presley and Paul Simon, and Crouch is one of a few select gospel artists with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Alongside his twin sister, Sandra, Crouch was born in 1942 into a Christian family. His parents ran a business and street ministry. Crouch accompanied his father to speaking engagements and, encouraged by congregants, began playing the piano and developed his musical skills in the process.

During the 60s, Crouch came to prominence with his group, The Disciples, and they recorded a number of well-received albums, including his classic, Live In London. The group disbanded in 1979, but Crouch continued to record, and also helped discover various groups, including The Winans.

Following the deaths of his parents and brother between 1993-94, Crouch took over the pastorship of Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, California – the church his father founded – and served as senior pastor during the last two decades of his life, working alongside his sister, Sandra.

A prolific artist, Crouch recorded a total of 19 albums and, prior to his death, Crouch had been making plans to go on a tour along with a range of gospel artists – but it wasn’t to be.   Instead, Crouch has joined the great heavenly choir, singing praises to the God he served so well. To God be the glory.

Andraé Crouch influenced gospel artists across the world, including artists here in the UK. Two artists share his impact on their ministry.

Nicky Brown, producer, musician and Head of Music at Ruach Ministries

Juliet Fletcher had a reception and interview session at Tottenham COGIC with Andraé Crouch. The keyboard player she booked hadn’t turned up, and she convinced Freddie Brown and me to play, even though we were very young and totally inexperienced. That was the second time I had a chance meet him. That night, Andraé pointed me out and it made me feel special. He came to Tottenham again at least three times more. I toured with him several times and taped a couple of live TVs with him, too. He was excellent. He also encouraged me to lead worship, mix professional music creation and ministry.

Bazil Meade, Founder and Director of the London Community Gospel Choir

I was introduced to Andraé Crouch’s music in the late 60s by my mentor and adoptive mother, Dr Olive Parris.   His songs were easy to sing, with beautiful soulful melodies, and became popular in churches throughout the Black community here in the UK.   I had the privilege of touring with him as LCGC in Sweden and UK.   It was a wonderful experience, inspiring to watch him minister with great confidence to a mainly White audience, who loved and admired his ministry and music. I learned to be confident when sharing faith – irrespective of the cultural differences of one’s audience. He inspired LCGC greatly with our own ministry.

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