A ‘Tribute to Andraé Crouch (Composer of ‘My Tribute – To God Be the Glory’) FeaturedWritten by Stephen Boalt
By Dr. Stephen Boalt, Special to ASSIST News Service
LOS ANGELES, CA (ANS) -- I was shocked when I heard of the home going of my dear friend, Andraé Crouch. You can read many articles on the internet from major newspapers and magazines, and review his amazing life and accomplishments in sacred music, secular music and gospel ministry.
Briefly, he was born on July 1, 1942 along with his twin sister, Sandra, to Benjamin and Catherine Crouch who were in the dry cleaning business and also served as a lay preachers, operated a street ministry and a prison ministry. He passed away on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at Northridge Medical Center after being admitted on Saturday after suffering a heart attack. Both Andraé and Sandra were serving as pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, CA.
When Andraé was eleven years old, his father needed a pianist to help with services where he was preaching. Mom and dad prayed, anointed Andraé's hands with oil and gave him a cardboard picture of a piano keyboard to practice. He played for the church service the next week. He simply said, "God gave him the gift."
At fourteen years of age, when Andraé and Billy Preston were attending a barbecue at Rev. James Cleveland's home, he told Billy to come into the house because God was giving him a song. "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" was born. The late Audrey Mieir heard about Andraé and featured him in a number of "Monday Night Musicals" concerts. Some of his early compositions were published by Manna Music where Audrey and Tim Spencer played a leadership role.
In 1969 I was in Hollywood, CA negotiating with Ralph Carmichael about doing a recording on his new Light Records label. He said he had just signed his first artists, Andraé Crouch and the Disciples. I didn't know Andraé then, but I closely followed his ministry and career ever since. We became close friends in the early '80s and our friendship continued. I interviewed him several times on my Los Angeles KFSG-FM daily talk show and we aired his church services every Sunday at 10:00pm.
I recorded a number of his songs on albums for Zondervan/Singcord with a 42-piece London orchestra and he was always so generous with his compliments about the treatment of those great songs. Whenever I sang one of his songs on the TBN "Praise the Lord" program, he often called with encouragement and congratulations.
One evening I took Andraé to a Dizzy Gillespie concert at "Marla's Memory Lane Supper Club" in Los Angeles, CA owned by Marla Gibbs, a famous actress, and at that time she portrayed the maid on "The Jeffersons" television show. Later, in the "green room" when Andraé met Dizzy, he told him that he owned almost all of Andraé's albums and was a real fan. Yes, the late king of bebop was a gospel music fan. Marla was an admirer as well!
In the early '80s, Andraé invited me to stay about a week in his Woodland Hills, CA home, just to visit, cook him a few meals and also observe his process of creating some songs. Andraé would simply open his Bible, read and pray for a while, then with a cassette tape recorder running, begin to play and sing. Most of the songs were just a phrase, mumbled or didn't make sense the first few times through. However, from those bags full of cassette tapes, Andraé and Scott Smith, his producer, put together many great songs that Andraé later recorded.
He was always aware that his gift came from God and he was always faithful to give God all the glory and credit for his success. He possessed a God-given innate knowledge of what worked lyrically and musically. He just knew what would communicate to the masses in many styles of music. Much of his gospel music was written with the urban church in mind, but crossed over into mainstream evangelical churches and was appreciated by all ethnic groups in America and around the world.
In 1984 I served on the staff of the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, CA, leading our equity waver theater. I picked up Andraé for our Sunday Thanksgiving service. Our congregation welcomed him warmly and I sang his composition, "My Tribute." After I sang, he raised his hand and said he wanted to share his testimony. Of course, Pastor Jess Moody said "yes." He shared his lifelong struggle with dyslexia, stuttering and with great humility told of his love for Christ and shared his gratitude for how God had used him in the religious community and also with some of the most famous singers, recording artists, actors, producers and film makers in the world. Then he sat at the piano and sang one of my favorite Crouch songs, "If Heaven Never Was Promised to Me," now featured on his "Just Andraé" CD.
Andraé Crouch received seven Grammy Awards, four GMA Dove Awards, as well as ASCAP, Billboard and NAACP Awards. In 2004 he became the only living gospel artist, and just the third in history, to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He and Sandra were good friends with Michael Jackson and served as either a producer or arranger for several Michael Jackson hit songs, including "Man in the Mirror." Along with his choir, he performed "Soon and Very Soon" at the memorial service for Michael Jackson.
He worked with Quincy Jones, Madonna, Diana Ross, Elton John, Rick Astley and Prefab Sprout, and he co-wrote the song for CeCe Winans' award winning album, "Throne Room" in 2003. He was nominated for an Oscar for his music used in the film, "The Color Purple" in 1985. He received the NARAS' Inaugural Salute to Gospel Music Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007.
His discography lists nineteen albums, including those with The Disciples and solo performances. He loved using the talents of gifted upcoming singers on his albums and gave them an opportunity to be heard and appreciated by the multitudes. Andraé Crouch songs have been recorded by almost every gospel recording artist and many secular artists, including Elvis Presley, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
"Until the Trumpet Sounds" we will enjoy and be blessed by Andraé Crouch songs, and then in heaven we can join in with that great angelic chorus singing and worshiping our Savior. Sandra Crouch said when we lost Andraé, "Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."
Photo: Andraé Crouch singing
January 13, 2015