From the Negro spirituals of the slaves, like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to the contemporary gospel songs from musical greats like Andraé Crouch’s, “Goin’ up Yonder,” black sacred music is the backbone of African American culture. It created a strong and resilient faith-based foundation for black people.
Andraé Crouch, a legendary gospel performer, songwriter, arranger, record producer, choir director and pastor, died January 8, 2015 at 72 years of age. He was born Andraé Edward Crouch on July 1, 1942 in San Francisco, California, along with his twin sister, Sandra, to parents Benjamin and Catherine (neé Hodnett) Crouch. Crouch was only 14 when he wrote his first gospel hit. Since then, his music has resonated across generations and cultures. Some of his most popular songs are “Soon and Very Soon,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” and “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”.
The celebration and homegoing for Andraé Crouch was a two-day tribute at West Angeles Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Los Angeles, California. It began with an all-gospel tribute concert on Tuesday, January 20th, followed by his homegoing service on Wednesday, January 21, 2015.
10 Things You Never Knew About Andraé Crouch
- Did you know that gospel music’s most celebrated artist worked to overcome stuttering? His twin sister, Sandra, had to speak for him. It started when Andraé was just three years old. He once narrated: “I was on my way to get some ice cream right down the street from where my folks had a business, and a guy picked me up and started running with me. And we’d always say, “If anybody ever kidnapped us, we would scream and beat them up.” And here this guy was running with me. I couldn’t say anything. My folks saw him carry me across the street ‘cause they heard me let out a yell and the guy dropped me. I remember then is when I started stuttering.”
- Between 1992 and 1994 his father, mother and older brother Benjamin, died of cancer. Following his father’s death, he took over as Senior Pastor at Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Pacoima, California, the church founded by his parents, serving alongside his twin sister Sandra. Crouch formed his music group there.
- In 2004, Crouch was the third gospel performers to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Crouch directed his choir, The Disciples, that sang background on Madonna’s song, “Like a Prayer.”
- He arranged music for the 1985 film, “The Color Purple” — which earned him an Academy Award nomination.
- In 1994, Crouch arranged the music for Disney’s “The Lion King” and helped to arrange Michael Jackson’s 1987 hit song, “Man in the Mirror.”
- Crouch collaborated often with his twin sister, who sang with him and acted as his manager.
- Despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia, to create, Crouch would make drawings that allowed him to grasp the concept. For the Jackson song, he drew a mirror with an image in it. Crouch once told The Associated Press in 2011, “I memorized everything through sight, the shape of the word.” “Some things that I write, you’ll see a page with cartoon pictures or a drawing of a car or a flag. I still do it on an occasion when a word is strange to me.”
- Crouch is the writer of five internationally renowned songs:
- “He’s Worthy”: Recorded in 1983 by Sandra Crouch and Friends, He’s Worthy is a staple of contemporary gospel music, particularly for female choirs.
- “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”: Billy Graham called him the greatest hymn writer. “The song is a pillar of contemporary gospel, performed often in churches; and yet, Crouch works the number like a Motown star, with a sweating, open-shirted, suave look – complete with gold chain and chest hair – that would look as at home on Marvin Gaye or Isaac Hayes.”
- “Man in the Mirror”: In addition to Crouch‘s choir performance with Michael Jackson at the Grammys, in the Man in the Mirror video, Crouch also arranged this single, which hit No 1 on the US charts when it was released in 1987.
- “The Force Behind the Power”: This song is a convergence of major musical talent from black America. The Stevie Wonder-produced song was performed live by Diana Ross and the Crouch twins. The song was also performed live in 1992 for the 50th birthday of Muhammad Ali.
- “Let the Church Say Amen”: The death of Whitney Houston was felt in the African American gospel music family. Houston came up in the church, and was memorialized in this live recording at her funeral with Marvin Winans performing one of Crouch’s most famous ballads, Let the Church Say Amen.
- Including many Stellar and Dove awards, Crouch won seven Grammys:
- 1975: Best Soul Gospel Performance Take Me Back
- 1978: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album Live in London
- 1979: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album I’ll Be Thinking of You
- 1980: Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational The Lord’s Prayer (collaborative)
- 1981: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album Don’t Give Up
- 1984: Best Soul Gospel Performance, Male Always Remember
- 1994: Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album Mercy
Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/jan/09/andrae-crouch-dead-five-songs-michael-jackson, http://mobile.monitor.co.ug/Life/10-things-you-never-knew-about-Andra—Crouch/-/1055104/2592734/-/format/xhtml/-/nmrffxz/-/index.html
Andraé Crouch Songs and Tributes: