The man who changed the tune of gospel music has died at age 72. Andraé Crouch pioneered a new sound bridging mainstream music with a modern church flare for more than 50 years. The singer died in Los Angeles at Northridge Hospital Medical Center on Thursday morning after suffering a heart attack on Saturday.
Deemed the “Father of Modern Gospel Music” Crouch often featured secular artists on his albums. Guests such as Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Philip Bailey, El DeBarge, Sheila E. and Wilton Felder are just a few of the musicians from the Jazz and R&B world the singer showcased. The songwriter earned nine Grammy’s for his music and received an Academy Award nomination for his participation in the film, The Color Purple.
Crouch changed the game for gospel singers worldwide with his contemporary arrangements of the traditional sound known as gospel along with leaving a legacy of new songs which have transcended many of the choir directors of yesterday and today. Some of the most notable songs Crouch penned are My Tribute (To God Be the Glory), Soon and Very Soon, Take Me Back, Jesus Is the Answer and The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.
The musician was a key figure in the 1960s and 70s during a time known as the Jesus Movement. His contemporary style of music bridged the gap between black and white Christian audiences. As a result, Crouch was highly criticized in the Evangelical community as one who diluted the message of Christ with his modernized sound. Heavily recognized worldwide, his songs have now become staples in churches across the globe and have been also recorded by many mainstream artists.
By revolutionizing urban gospel Crouch is credited with bringing Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, The Winans and Jessy Dixon to Light Records. His influence has reached an innumerable amount of artists such as the famous Clark Sisters, Israel Houghton, BeBe and CeCe Winans and many others. With an R&B and pop sound Crouch gained notoriety beyond the church community.
Born in San Francisco Crouch and his twin sister Sandra lived in Los Angeles and were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando. Having contributed to the gospel music arena for more than half a century the producer wrote his first gospel song at 14-years-old. Crouch is the third in history and for years the only living contemporary gospel artist to have a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The noted recording artist has suffered from diabetes and has survived several bouts with cancer. He was hospitalized in early December with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. His illness forced the cancellation of his Let the Church Say Amen celebration tour which was scheduled to start in Philadelphia on December 6, 2014.
Crouch’s life had come full circle after evangelizing and traveling to over 72 countries. The church he pastored at the time of his death was founded by his late parents and a hallmark in the community. The recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Inaugural Salute to Gospel Music Lifetime Achievement Award winner was a trendsetter and innovator. The passion and determination of this great musician has left a solid legacy for singers of all genres to follow. The Christian community along with many other across the globe are mourning the death of legendary gospel singer Andraé Edward Crouch.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Main Image courtesy of James Nwobu – Flickr License
Featured Image courtesy of Bkokern – Flickr License