Andraé Crouch, gospel great passes

Many followed his crossover path


RIVERPHLO ENTERTAINMENT ANDRAE CROUCHAndraé Crouch, vocalist, composer, arranger, producer and pastor who was widely regarded as the father of modern gospel, is gone.

Credited with helping to pave the way for early American contemporary Christian music in the 1960s and ’70s, Crouch was well known for his compositions “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” which he recorded with Billy Preston in 1960 as a member of Church of God in Christ Singers; “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”; and “Soon and Very Soon.”

Indicating his significance as a recording artist, he’d backed up on session such stellar figures as Joe Sample, Phillip Bailey, Stevie Wonder, El Debarge and The Andraé Crouch Singers. During the 1980s, Andraé Crouch collaborated with Wonder, Elton John and Quincy Jones and conducted choirs for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”

His affiliation with Light Records was essential in recruiting Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, Jessy Dixon and The Winans to the company, where they all saw successful gospel music careers. His influence extended to the likes of such Christian artists as BeBe and CeCe Winans, The Clark Sisters, Wintley Phipps, Anointed and Israel Houghton.

His arrangements are featured in the films The Color Purple and The Lion King as well as the television series Amen starring Sherman Helmsley, Anna Maria Horsford and Clifton Davis. Among the honors he received during a venerated career are seven Grammy Awards, being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004 — he became the only living gospel artist (the third in history) to have that distinction.

Crouch’s accomplishments as producer-arranger include work with Diana Ross, Rick Astley and co-writing the title song for CeCe Winans’ award-winning album Throne Room

He performed extensively, including as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and appeared before sold-out audiences at Carnegie Hall in 1975 and 1979 and, in 1985, at the famed Hollywood Bowl. His international renown entailed touring almost 70 countries. He starred in the 1995 Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

Andraé Edward Crouch was hospitalized in early December 2014 for pneumonia and congestive heart failure and again this month due to a heart attack. He died five days later, January 8, at age 72 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles.

— By MSR Contributing Writer Dwight Hobbes.