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Andrae Crouch Tribute: Father of Modern Gospel Music Remembered by Celebrities, Christians

( [email protected] ) Jan 09, 2015 04:51 PM EST

Andrae Crouch
Andrae Crouch, sings from the pulpit of Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles. Photo: AP/Frank Wiese

Celebrities and Christians alike have been pouring out tributes to gospel legend Andrae Crouch, 72, who died Thursday.

Crouch died in hospital from complications related to a heart attack he suffered last week. In an article for Christianity Today, Robert Darden, an associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University, wrote a tribute on the performer, songwriter and choir director.

"Crouch was an innovator, a path-finder, a precursor in an industry noted for its conservative, often derivative approach to popular music," Darden wrote. "He combined gospel and rock, flavored it with jazz and calypso as the mood struck him and the song called for it, and is even one of the founders of what is now called 'praise and worship' music. He took risks with his art and was very, very funky when he wanted to be."

Darden added that while Amy Grant made contemporary Christian music popular, "Andrae made it sound great." He also noted that when Crouch was one of the first people he covered during his time as gospel music editor at Billboard magazine.

"When Michael Jackson or Madonna or Quincy Jones needed a gospel song or a gospel chorus, they called Andrae," Darden wrote. "That's his music on the soundtrack to The Color Purple (where he earned an Oscar nomination), the Broadway musical The Lion King, and the pop songs 'Man in the Middle' and 'Like a Prayer.'"

Deborah Evans Price of Billboard noted that artists across all music genres are mourning his passing. Grammy winner Jason Crabb elaborated on the influence Crouch had on him as a musician.

"To say the legendary Andrae Crouch was an influence on my life would be a vast understatement," Crabb said. "One of the highlights of my career was to perform his classic song, 'The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,' as he played the piano during a Bill Gaither video taping. I'll never forget it. We've lost a true pioneer and he will be missed."

According to Price, in addition to winning seven Grammys, Crouch also earned numerous accolades, including six Dove Awards, ASCAP, Billboard, NAACP Image Awards and an Academy Award nomination for The Color Purple. He also had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is a rarity among gospel artists.

"Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord," Crouch's sister, Pastor Sandra Crouch, said in a statement. "Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best. Details of Andraé's celebration service and tribute will be forthcoming."

Celebrities also went to social media sites to express their condolences on Crouch's passing.

"'God has spoken, let the church say amen,'" entertainment mogul Tyler Perry wrote on Twitter, referring to a quote from Crouch. "May your soul rest in peace Andrae Crouch."

"RIP Andrae Crouch," musician MC Hammer wrote on Twitter. "Words cannot express our love for you and all the wonderfully anointed music you gave us. Angels sing and soar. Glory."

"A musical genius has left us," Bishop T.D. Jakes wrote on Twitter in tribute to Crouch. "He will always be remembered by the gifts he left amongst us."

Darden elaborated on the legacy Crouch left behind in the world of gospel music.

"With his untimely passing, what should you know about the musical legacy of Andrae Crouch?" Darden asked. "Besides the fact that he wrote the standard 'The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power' (commonly called 'The Blood') at age 14, of course. Not to mention that his first gospel group included Billy Preston, Edna Wright (later with the Honeycombs), Gloria Jones (later a Motown songwriter), and his twin sister Sandra Crouch (who would have a wonderful gospel career as well)."

Darden added that Crouch was "musically and lyrically fearless" and was constantly "searching for better ways to express the gospel in music."

"Perhaps that fearlessness came from growing up in the Compton area of Los Angeles," Darden wrote. "Perhaps it came from a life spent in the Church of God in Christ, the most musically adventuresome of all Protestant denominations, which embraced electric guitars and drum kits when other denominations were splitting over whether or not to have pianos in the sanctuary."

However, Price thought that Crouch explained his legacy best in his own words. She noted that the gospel music singer was unapologetic throughout his life in using his "musical gifts" to bring others to know God.

"Every day we hear that somebody got saved to our music from all over the world," Crouch said. "The music reaches people. It can encourage them. I feel like I have to do it because there's somebody out there who needs to hear the gospel. That's all I want in life is to be remembered as a guy that really loved God."

There's no doubt people will remember Crouch's legacy through his perspective.

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