Christian Review Magazine Issue 3 - March 2015 - Page 7

Called the “the father of the modern gospel,” because he more than anyone expanded gospel music to include elements of R&B and modern popular styles during the 70s and 80s, Crouch had his early musical formation in his parents’ church in southern California. He often told the story about how his piano- playing was literally God-given when he was a child. Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Through It All,” “Bless His Holy Name,” and “My Tribute.” Their contemporary gospel sound reached beyond the traditional African American base and touched a racially and musically diverse audience. Several musical groups and solo performers recorded Crouch’s more popular works, further expanding his musical influence. His first musical group was the COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers), which he formed when he was in high school and which featured vocalist Billy Preston. Preston later played organ for the Beatles, Eric Clapton, and many other mainstream and gospel artists before launching a successful solo career. The COGICS were the first to record “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power.” He later worked as a producer or arranger with Michael Jackson, Madonna (“Like A Prayer”), Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Elton John and Rick Astley (“Cry For Help”). His film credits include Once Upon A Forest, The Color Purple, The Lion King, and Free Willy. Who can forget the rousing rendition of “Maybe God’s Trying to Tell You Something,” from The Color Purple (featuring Tata Vega on lead), or the theme from the NBC sitcom Amen. Crouch also appeared on television as the voice of Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle. Crouch founded the Disciples in 1965. At the urging of Christian composer Ralph Carmichael, he began to record his compositions in 1969. During the 1965-1985 period, Crouch and the Disciples appeared on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, performed at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and toured 68 countries. Their most popular songs from this period include “The Blood Crouch who is credited with revolutionizing the sound of contemporary gospel music, was one of the first black gospel artists to crossover to mainstream contemporary Christian music, and his songs have become staples and popular hymns in churches all around the world. In 1996, his songs were the impetus for the GRAMMY award-winning CD, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch, which featured a range of artists, including the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Take 6 and Michael W. Smith, performing some of his classic songs. Andraé Crouch won numerous awards and honors over the years. In addition to his GRAMMY® Awards and GMA Dove Awards, he received ASCAP, Billboard and NAACP Image Awards. In 2004, he became the only living contemporary gospel artist—and just the third in history—to have his star enshrined on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2005, Crouch was the recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Inaugural Salute to Gospel Music Lifetime Achievement Award. Andraé Crouch served as Senior Pastor at the New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in San Fernando, California, the church founded by his parents. Crouch released his last studio album, The Journey, in 2011, and passed away January 8, 2015. He was 72 years old. Photo courtesy of Riverphlo Entertainment CHRISTIANREVIEW.COM > 7