• Exploring American History

Andraé Crouch was the father of modern gospel music

Known and loved for wonderful gospel compositions such The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, My Tribute (To God Be the Glory) and Soon and Very Soon; Andraé Crouch was affectionately known as the father of modern gospel music. His ability to incorporate contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music of his childhood paved the way for early American contemporary Christian music which moved onto the scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Crouch’s work is also heard in movies such as The Color Purple and The Lion King, along with the television series Amen! Crouch was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was set in 2004.

Andraé Edward Crouch, and his twin sister Sandra, were born in San Francisco on July 1, 1942, to Benjamin Crouch and Catherine Hodnett. During his childhood, Andraé's parents owned and operated both a dry-cleaning business (Crouch Cleaners) and a restaurant. Benjamin and Catherine also worked in a variety of Christian ministries such as street-preaching, hospitals and prisons.

When Andraé was 11, Benjamin was invited to preach a revival at a small church and took his son with him. Both Benjamin and the congregation encouraged Andraé to participate. Sitting down at the piano, he found the key in which the congregation was singing and started to play. In time, Andraé honed his skills on the piano and soon demonstrated a talent for songwriting. He was 14 when he wrote his first gospel melody.

In 1960 Crouch had his first ensemble, the Church of God in Christ Singers. Numbered among this group was future recording artist Billy Preston on the keyboard. Preston would become the first to record Crouch's song The Blood Will Never Lose its Power in 1969. The song quickly grew in popularity and is now found in hymnals worldwide.

In 1965, Andraé was a student at Valley Junior College in the San Fernando Valley, in pursuit of a teaching degree. During that time, he formed “The Disciples”, another gospel music group. They frequently performed at “Monday Night Sing”, concerts presented by Rev. Audrey Mieir. Rev. Mieir introduced Crouch to Tim and Hal Spencer, founders of Manna Music Publishing. Manna published his song “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” and the Spencers helped launch Crouch’s recording career when they introduced him to Ralph Carmichael, founder of Light Records. Singing with The Disciples, his first album, Take the Message Everywhere, was released in 1968. His sister, Sandra, joined The Disciples a short time later and the group released two more albums. Andraé later left The Disciples and joined The Imperials.

Considered a key participant in the “Jesus music” of the 1960s and 1970s, Andraé’s compositions helped to bring contemporary Christian music into the church. He also played a major role in bridging the gap between black and white Christian music, in addition to revolutionizing urban gospel songs. Some hold the belief Crouch’s songs “diluted” the Christian message; however, these “dilutions” were loved and recorded by such artists as Elvis Presley, who recorded Crouch’s song, I’ve Got Confidence. Crouch also composed the theme song for Sherman Hemsley’s sitcom Amen and was featured in the 1995 Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

In 1996, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch was released by Warner Brothers Records and received a Grammy. The songs, written by Crouch, were performed by such artists as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Twila Paris and Michael W. Smith.

Benjamin and Catherine Crouch died in 1993 and 1994, respectively. After Benjamin's death, Andraé and his sister handled the duties of senior pastor at their parents’ church, Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, California.

In early December 2014, Andraé was hospitalized due to congestive heart failure and pneumonia, resulting in the postponement of his planned December tour. On January 3, 2015, a heart attack sent him back to the hospital. 72-year-old Andraé Crouch died five days later on January 8, 2015.

Following his death, Sandra released this statement:

Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.”

One can only imagine the excitement heard in Heaven as Andraé Crouch’s arrival was announced by St. Peter.

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I'll never forget hearing Andraé for the first time. It was like someone had opened a whole new world of possibilities for me musically. I don't think there is anyone who inspired me more, growing up, than Andraé Crouch. The depth of his influence on Christian music is incalculable. We all owe him so much and I'll forever be grateful for the times we got to work together.”

Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith

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