NASHVILLE—Legendary gospel songwriter and performer Andraé Crouch has died at the age of 72.
Crouch’s songs — among them: “My Tribute,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Soon and Very Soon,” “Bless the Lord” and “Through It All” — have become standards and are included in the hymnals of both African American and Anglo churches.
He was a major figure in the “Jesus Movement” of the ’60s and ’70s, which led to the rise in popularity of contemporary Christian and gospel music. He is credited with pioneering the urban gospel sound, blending elements of traditional gospel, R&B, jazz and pop.
Crouch’s sound became so synonymous with gospel music that anytime a mainstream artist or movie studio needed a gospel song, he was their first call. His work in writing, arranging and directing can be heard on recordings by Elvis Presley, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Paul Simon and others, as well as on soundtracks for movies like “The Lion King” and “The Color Purple,” for which Crouch was nominated for an Academy Award. He is one of only a handful of gospel musicians with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Crouch could craft an innovative melody and heartfelt lyric while unabashedly proclaiming the Gospel in his songs — man’s sin; God’s love and faithfulness; Jesus’ death, resurrection and imminent return. Crouch’s songs were transparent and honest about the struggles of the Christian life, yet full of hope.
In 1965, he founded The Disciples, the group that became an outlet for his compositions and launched him to gospel music fame. Before disbanding in 1979, The Disciples had performed in front of nationwide audiences, including “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, and in 68 countries. Crouch continued to perform as a solo artist, with a team of background musicians and singers. In the ’90s, he also took over as senior pastor of the church his parents helped build.
Crouch had dealt with multiple illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. He died Jan. 8 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center near Los Angeles from complications following a heart attack.
Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship and one of those responsible for including several of Crouch’s songs in the Baptist Hymnal, said Crouch had not stopped making music.
“It’s hard to imagine the world without Andraé Crouch,” Harland, who leads the music division of LifeWay Christian Resources, said in comments relayed to Baptist Press. “And of all the songs that come to mind to remember him by, the one that stands out to me today is one of the last ones he wrote. Just last summer, Andraé co-wrote a song with one of our writers, Tommy Walker, titled ‘Someday.’
“The song is about eternal life — the second verse seems so poignant in the wake of Andraé’s passing.
“Now Andraé’s ‘someday’ has come. And the tears are tears of joy,” Harland said. (BP)