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*Andraé Crouch was born on this date in 1942. He was a Black gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, recording artist, record producer, and pastor.
Born in San Francisco, California, Andraé Edward Crouch along with his twin sister, Sandra were children to Benjamin and Catherine (neé Hodnett) Crouch. When he was young, Crouch's parents owned and operated Crouch Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business, a restaurant, a street ministry, and hospital and prison ministry in Los Angeles, California.
When he 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 him to play during the services. At the piano, Crouch found the key in which the congregation was singing and started to play. Crouch honed his piano skills and, in time, wanted to write his own music. When he was 14 years old, he wrote his first Gospel song. In 1960, Crouch formed his first group was the Church of God in Christ Singers (COGICS) which included Billy Preston. The COGICS were the first group to record the song "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power."
In 1965 while attending Valley Junior College in California to become a teacher, he was called to the ministry and formed The Disciples with Perry Morgan and Billy Thedford. The group became a frequent attraction at "Monday Night Sing" concerts in southern California put on by Christian minister of music and composer Audrey Mieir who frequently sponsored new Christian music groups. Mieir introduced Crouch to Tim Spencer of Manna Music Publishing, the first to publish one of his songs ("The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", which Crouch wrote at 15 but tossed into the trash thinking it was inferior; his sister Sandra, thinking differently, salvaged it).
Spencer helped launch their recording career by introducing them to Light Records founder Ralph Carmichael. Their first album, Take The Message Everywhere was recorded in 1968. Sandra Crouch joined the Disciples in 1970. At Carmichael's urging, Crouch began to record his compositions in 1968 with the group's debut album, Take the Message Everywhere, which was released in 1969. In 1972 the Disciples appeared on The Tonight Show. By 1985 they had also performed at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall and toured 68 countries. Crouch's other popular songs from this period included "Through It All", "Bless His Holy Name", "Soon and Very Soon", "Jesus is the Answer", and "My Tribute". Their contemporary gospel sound reached beyond the traditional African American base and touched a racially and musically diverse audience. The Disciples disbanded in 1979 and Crouch continued on with his solo career.
Crouch was a key figure in the Jesus Music movement of the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, helped bring about contemporary Christian music, and began to bridge the gap between Black and white Christian music. Though sometimes criticized for diluting the Gospel message by using contemporary styles, his songs have become staples in churches all around the world and recorded by mainstream artists such as Paul Simon. Crouch is also credited with revolutionizing the sound of urban Gospel music. Crouch was instrumental in bringing Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, Jessy Dixon and The Winans to Light Records, all enjoying successful gospel music careers.
His influence has extended to countless artists. Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Dean Parks, David Paich, Phillip Bailey, Stevie Wonder, and other secular artists were featured on all of Crouch's major recording sessions. Crouch had a gift of bringing out unique voices in solos on his projects including El Debarge on "The Lord is my Light" or Táta Vega on "Oh it is Jesus". With Bill Maxwell he has 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 ("I've Got Confidence"), further expanding Crouch's musical influence. On November 12, 1982, Crouch was arrested in Los Angeles for possession of cocaine after being stopped for erratic driving. Police declined to press charges.
In 1986, Crouch composed the theme music for the Sherman Hemsley sitcom Amen, sung by Vanessa Bell Armstrong. In 1987, the Andraé Crouch Choir sang background vocals on Michael Jackson's singles "Man in the Mirror," "Keep the Faith" and "Will You Be There." "Soon and Very Soon" was performed at the public memorial service for Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Between 1993 and 1994 his father, mother, and older brother all died. Following his father's death, he took over as Senior Pastor at Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, California, the church founded by his parents, serving alongside his twin sister Sandra. He was featured in the 1995 Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness. In 1996, Crouch's songs were the impetus for the Grammy Award- winning CD, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch, which featured a range of artists performing some of his classic songs including the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Take 6 and Michael W. Smith. In 2006 he released Mighty Wind, a 40th anniversary album.
Crouch was hospitalized in early December 2014 for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He was hospitalized again on January 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, as the result of a heart attack. Andraé Crouch died five days later on January 8, 2015, at the age of 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 my family, our church family and me in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."
L.A. Times/Andrae Crouch