Andrae Crouch was perhaps the single most crucial force in contemporary gospel music, as both a major star in his own right and as a vastly influential composer and arranger.
Born to a family of deep faith, Crouch grew up singing in church with his three siblings and after an extraordinary musical experience, spontaneously accompanying his father’s performance of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on the piano — an instrument he had never before played — Crouch devoted himself to music. During high school, he formed the Church of God in Christ Singers, which included famed keyboardist-Beatles collaborator Billy Preston. As a young man, he went on to lead the vocal group Andrae Crouch & the Disciples, recording his debut album in 1972.
Crouch was steeped in the rich gospel tradition and quickly began expanding upon that by adding secular elements drawn from pop music and contemporary R&B. This groundbreaking practice was more than a little controversial and Crouch soon faced the same type of disapproval that had confronted Ray Charles when he imbued his R&B with gospel influences. Like Charles, Crouch easily overcame his detractors and went on to achieve a stunning level of success: He has won eight Grammys and four GMA Dove awards along with honors from ASCAP, Billboard magazine and the NAACP.
Crouch’s ability to move between the sacred and secular arenas has been consistently impressive, as collaborations with Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones make clear (he and Jones’ "The Color Purple" soundtrack earned an Academy Award nomination). He has contributed to soundtracks for several motion pictures, including "The Lion King" and "Free Willy," and appeared on numerous television shows. Despite all this worldly razzle-dazzle, Crouch remains a minister and gospel artist above all else, one whose imprint on spiritual music is equally impressive and ineradicable.
Crouch died Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, at Northridge Hospital Medical Center after suffering a heart attack on Saturday. He was 72.
|1985||Best Original Score||Quincy Jones, Jeremy Lubbock, Rod Temperton, Caiphus Semenya, Andrae Crouch, Chris Boardman, Jorge Calandrelli, Joel Rosenbaum, Fred Steiner, Jack Hayes, Jerry Hey, Randy Kerber||Nomination*|