The father of modern Gospel music, Andraé Crouch, was hospitalized late last year for heart failure and again early this year for a heart attack. His sister Sandra released this statement yesterday: “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.”
I was very fortunate to meet him briefly at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival where he was scheduled to perform with Ashford & Simpson, Sandra Crouch, and Táta Vega. After Crouch and his group The Disciples disbanded in 1979, he went solo with the Andraé Crouch Singers of which Vega was a member. Both Vega and El DeBarge were among the special voices which were highlighted by Crouch through his projects. Other people whom he worked with include Joe Sample, Michael Jackson, Phillip Bailey, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, or The Winans. He wrote his first Gospel song at 14, later founded the Church of God in Christ Singers and went on to become the most influential voice of Gospel music.
The nine time Grammy Award winner modernized the Gospel sound of the 70s and 80s. And when I listened again to his 1975 recording “Take Me Back”, it is clear why: he brought in so many artists from different genres, styles, and eras to his music that there necessarily had to arise a new sound. On that album alone, people like Billy Preston, the aforementioned Sample, Wilton Felder, Ernie Watts, Larry Carlton, Dave Hungate (who later was part of the group Toto), or Phillis St. James all contributed to a project that even though (or maybe because of that) it won the Best Soul Gospel Performance Award, it didn’t sound like anything else from that period. (Pictured here is the LP cover. Crouch is on the far left). Crouch left us at only 72 years old.