Legendary gospel artist Andraé Crouch, who for over 50 years helped close the divide between gospel and mainstream music, died Jan. 8 at the age of 72. Crouch had been taken to Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles over the weekend after suffering a heart attack.
A native of San Francisco, Crouch penned his very first gospel song at the age of 14. By 18, he formed his first group, the Church of God in Christ Singers, that featured a then-unknown Billy Preston on keyboards. In 1965, he put together another group, Andraé Crouch & the Disciples, that landed a record deal with Christian label, Light Records. It was there that Crouch first began experimenting with more pop and R&B melodies in his gospel music.
By the early ’70s, Crouch’s music was being admired and covered by some of the biggest names in music, including Paul Simon and Elvis Presley. He also became a sought after studio musician for artist looking to incorporate some gospel flavor in their records, counting the likes of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and even Beatles drummer Ringo Starr as clients.
Crouch also featured a number of secular artists on his albums, such as Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Shelia E., and El DeBarge among others. A seven-time Grammy Award winner, Crouch also took home and Oscar for his working as an arranger on the 1985 class, The Color Purple.
Earning the nickname “the father of modern gospel music,” Crouch was held in high regard for not only his ability to bridge the sounds of gospel and secular music, but also for his willingness to work with and nurture up-and-coming gospel artists.
Both Crouch and his twin sister, Sandra, served as pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, California, after the death of their parents, who founded the church.
A survivor of multiple bouts with cancer, Crouch also had diabetes and suffered from dyslexia. This past December he was hospitalized with a bout of pneumonia and congestive heart failure, which caused him to cancel his Let the Church Say Amen Celebration tour, that was to begin on Dec. 6 in Philadelphia. When he was readmitted to the hospital on Saturday, his sister released a statement saying he was dealing with “serious health complications.”
Following Crouch’s death she released the following 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.”