Remembering Andraé Crouch

From the March/April 2015 issue of Homecoming Magazine
~ By Deborah Patterson ~ 

Musical giant Andraé Crouch passed away on January 8, 2015, after suffering complications following a heart attack five days earlier. He died surrounded by family at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in the Los Angeles area. Andraé was 72 years old.

Often referred to as “the father of modern gospel music,” Crouch was a gifted singer, songwriter, arranger, recording artist, record producer and pastor. Despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia, his prodigious talent spanned multiple musical genres and reached across cultural, racial and even spiritual boundaries. He was born in San Francisco in 1942, and his giftings became obvious early in childhood. When his father began preaching in a small rural church that had no musicians, Andraé stepped up and began playing for them at age 11. He wrote his first Gospel song at 14, and formed his first band (The Cogics) at age 18. He wrote dozens of songs, including the Gospel standards “ The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory),” “Soon and Very Soon” and “Through It All.”

Crouch was instrumental in the success of many Gospel artists including Jessy Dixon and BeBe and CeCe Winans, and his talent and generous heart earned the respect of musicians in every genre. In addition to his extensive achievements in the Gospel world, Crouch worked with icons including Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, the Commodores, Elton John, Ringo Starr and Madonna. Elvis Presley performed his song “I’ve Got Confidence” for a 1972 Gospel album, and Paul Simon recorded “Jesus Is the Answer” for a 1974 live album. Crouch also made musical contributions to several films, including The Color Purple, The Lion King and Free Willy, and he was the only living Gospel performer to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Throughout his five-decade-plus career, Crouch received nine Grammys, multiple GMA Dove Awards, ASCAP and Billboard awards, an Oscar nomination and many other honors, and he was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Andraé and Sandra Crouch with Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire

Andraé and Sandra Crouch with Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire

Reba Rambo-McGuire Remembers Andraé 

Some gifts are simply forged in heaven. 

In 1952 in the middle of a small church gathering, Rev. Benjamin Crouch laid hands on his young son Andraé and asked him, “Son, if God gave you the gift of music, would you use it for His glory all your life?” A painfully shy, prone-to-stuttering Andraé simply answered, “Yes, Daddy.” About three weeks later at the same tiny chapel, the saints were singing a cappella “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Rev. Crouch motioned for Andraé to go to the dusty old upright piano, and somehow the child’s trembling legs obeyed. “My fingers had never touched a real piano,” Andraé said. “Somehow I found the tonic note, and my ears just popped open. I started playing, just like that, with both hands! Then the little songs began to come... and they never stopped.” 

When Andraé was 14 years old, he, along with his twin Sandra and friend Billy Preston, was invited to a cookout with many other artists and songwriters. Andraé, too bashful and intimidated to make his way to the backyard for the party, gazed longingly out the picture window wanting to fit in. “Lord, I wish I could write a real song like so many of these folks can,” he prayed. 

From his mouth to God’s ear. 

He noticed the host slathering barbecue sauce on the ribs and somehow began thinking about the blood of Jesus. The piano in the open den began to woo him, and within five minutes he had penned his first complete song, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” 

So many times, through horrific battles in life, Andraé’s mantra has been, “I plead the blood!” Through the deaths of his beloved parents and older brother Benjamin Jr., to the physical battles of diabetes, congestive heart failure and multiple bouts of cancer—he has always lifted his unrelenting voice in praise. 

Andraé wrote many of his beloved songs right on a stage or platform during moments when he was swept away in worship. He had a way of seeing and hearing Jesus above the noise of the masses and getting lost in intimacy with Him while the heaven-dipped notes and words flowed with abandonment. This African-American kid from the wrong side of the tracks, with no formal musical education whatsoever, ushered millions into the very presence of God. He understood that through it all, to God be the glory for the blood will never lose its power... 

This gift was forged in heaven. 

Dony McGuire Remembers Andraé 

I’ve had the honor of knowing Andraé Crouch for the past 45 years. Needless to say, his impact on my life has been immeasurable over the years. 

Just after he passed, we were in a Tuesday evening Bible study and decided we would reflect on some of his music as a way of preparing our hearts to receive the Word. When we started singing the chorus to “Through It All,” tears began to roll down my face as I was taken back 33 years ago to a moment in my life where I had come to realize drug and alcohol abuse was certainly going to get the best of me if I continued down that road. 

In what I believe to be the most miraculous moment of my life, I felt the presence of Jesus wash over me and cleanse me of not only the chemicals in my physical body at that particular time, but to cleanse me of the need for them going forward. Since then, there have been so many times I found myself singing these lyrics from Andraé: 

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
And I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t
know that God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith
in His word could do. 

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His word…

To read the full article, please visit the Homecoming Magazine website.