Gospel Music Legend Andrae Crouch Dead at 72: Biography, Greatest Song Hits, and Christian Testimony

Jan 09, 2015 07:25 AM EST

Andrae Crouch
Photo: Riverphlo Music Group

Legendary gospel performer, songwriter and choir director Andrae Crouch has died at the age of 72.

According to Robert Jablon of the Associated Press, Crouch died Thursday afternoon at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles. His publicist, Brian Mays, told the Associated Press that Crouch was admitted to hospital on Saturday after the singer suffered from a heart attack.

"Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord," his twin sister and next of kin, Sandra Crouch, said in statement. "Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."

A Los Angeles native, Crouch worked as a producer and arranger for various artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John and Diana Ross. Ryan Parker and Elaine Woo of the Los Angeles Times noted that his "Let the Church Say Amen" Celebration Tour was postponed last month due to illness.

"Although he had studied elementary education in college and worked as a counselor for recovering drug abusers, he was driven to a music career," Parker and Woo wrote.

The Recording Academy, responsible for awarding seven Grammys to Crouch during a music career that lasted more than a half-century, said in a statement cited by the Associated Press that he was "a remarkable musician and legendary figure" who was "fiercely devoted to evolving the sound of contemporary, urban gospel music."

Crouch, alongside his sister, Sandra, served as pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, a Los Angeles suburb. The Associated Press also noted that he lived in the Pacoima area of Los Angeles.

"Debuting in 1960, Crouch helped pioneer the burgeoning 'Jesus Music' movement from the late 1960s and '70s that started the spread of contemporary Christian music," Jablon wrote.

According to the Associated Press, Crouch was responsible for writing dozens of songs, including gospel favorites that included "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," "My Tribute (To God Be The Glory)" and "Soon and Very Soon," which was performed at Jackson's public memorial.

His influence was also felt into pop music. The Associated Press reported that Elvis Presley used Crouch's song "I've Got Confidence" in a 1972 gospel album, while Paul Simon recorded "Jesus Is The Answer" for a 1974 live album.

Other stars who worked with Crouch in terms of music included famous icons such as Ringo Starr, Chaka Khan, Shelia E., Take 6, Kim Burrell and Marvin Winans. Performers from other musical genres also performed on his gospel albums, according to the Associated Press.

"His choir, The Disciples, sang background for Madonna's song 'Like a Prayer,'" Jablon wrote. "Crouch helped Michael Jackson arrange the King of Pop's 1987 hit song, 'Man in the Mirror.'"

The Associated Press added that he was nominated for an Academy Award for his musical arrangement for the 1985 film "The Color Purple." He also arranged music for the 1994 Disney hit "The Lion King."

Back in 1982, Crouch told the Los Angeles Times that many church traditionalists thought his music was "trash."

"That doesn't bother me," Crouch said back then. "I'm going to do what I think is right. Every song I've written takes you through the scriptures and reinforces the word of God. I give people a beautiful message, but I do it with pop, rock, funk, jazz or disco or anything that will make it appealing."

According to the Associated Press, Crouch had been plagued with various recent health problems, including diabetes and cancer. While he also suffered from dyslexia his entire life, he elaborated to the Associated Press back in 2011 on how he was able to work around his condition.

"I memorized everything through sight, the shape of the word," Crouch said. "Some things that I write, you'll see a page with cartoon pictures or a drawing of a car - like a Ford - or a flag. I still do it on an occasion when a word is strange to me."

Crouch gave credit to God for his success.

"When I finish a song, I thank God for bringing me through," Crouch said. "You have to press on and know your calling. That's what I've been doing for all my life. I just went forward."