Born July 1, 1942, vocal arranger, songwriter, choir leader and pastor Andrae Crouch bridged the worlds of church and mainstream music for more than 50 years. Dubbed as “The Father of Modern Gospel Music,” Crouch brought a contemporary sound and melodic sensibility to gospel. This made him uniquely suited to appeal to both black and white audiences during the early days of the countercultural “Jesus Movement”, and it also brought him attention beyond the church.
A California native who grew up in the Church of God in Christ, Crouch wrote his first gospel song at age 14. That song, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”, went on to become one of Crouch’s signature hits, gracing churches everywhere.
His contribution to the worship of the church include songs such as:
- My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)
- Bless the Lord Oh My Soul
- Through it All
- Let the Church Say Amen
His recordings garnered him 7 Grammy Awards, 6 GMA Dove Awards, an Academy Award nomination for his arranging work on the 1985 film The Color Purple, and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998.
Crouch’s career was formed during a period of great unrest in America. The Civil Rights Movement, assassinations, the Vietnam War, race riots and a rising drug subculture defined the times, as did the Jesus Movement. Crouch left college and went to work for Teen Challenge, a Christian organization which rehabilitated drug addicts and gang members. He formed the Addicts Choir there and began writing songs to comfort and encourage the troubled teens he counseled.
During the same period, Andrae and his sister Sandra formed Andraé Crouch and the Disciples from members of his church. In 1969 they were signed to Light Records, a mainstream Christian label. Crouch was inspired as much by contemporary pop, rock, and R&B as he was by traditional gospel. The crossover appeal of the group and Crouch’s contemporary gospel style also garnered them popularity on the white church circuit. It catapulted the group to prominence during a time when the nation was in need of a clear message of hope.
The Disciples’ contemporary style also brought some criticism from some gospel music purists who challenged the authenticity of Crouch’s contemporary sound. The popular gospel style of the day followed the more traditional gospel sound, such as that of the Reverend James Cleveland; also a driving force in modern gospel music. Still, because Crouch’s songwriting followed familiar gospel music structure and reflected traditional church doctrine, his music’s purity has earned a place in hymnals around the world.
It wasn’t long before Andrae Crouch also caught the attention of the pop music world. He was best known to the mainstream music audience for his choral work on Michael Jackson’s hit Man in the Mirror (1988), Madonna’s Like a Prayer (1989) and the soundtrack to the Disney film The Lion King (1994). His passion, however, would forever be for creating the music that expressed his faith and for preaching and teaching at his parent’s home church in Pacoima, California. He passed away on January 8, 2015, at the age of 72.
“That’s all I want in life is to be remembered as a guy that really loved God” – Andrae Crouch
Introduction, Dr. Judith McAllister. History, Karen Lascaris.
Hear West Angeles’ Revelation Choir, under the direction of Brother Ron Taylor, honor the anointed work of Andraé Crouch by singing one of his most heralded songs entitled, “Soon & Very Soon”: