Remembering Andrae Crouch, Dead at 72
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Andrae Crouch performs on Saturday Night Live in 1980

On the stage of Waco Hall, I was worried that the world was about to come to an end way too soon and I just wasn’t ready. In 1972, I saw—for the first time—Andrae Crouch and the Disciples performing “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Soon and Very Soon,” “My Tribute,” “Through It All,” and “Bless His Holy Name.” I was both mesmerized and a little frightened.

I had been a fan of black gospel music since childhood. But as a freshman at Baylor University, I knew that this was something different. I just knew. And it was something different for Jesus Rock (the term “contemporary Christian music” or CCM wasn’t in wide usage back then).

Crouch was an innovator, a path-finder, a precursor in an industry noted for its conservative, often derivative approach to popular music. He combined gospel and rock, flavored it with jazz and calypso as the mood struck him and the song called for it, and is even one of the founders of what is now called “praise and worship” music. He took risks with his art and was very, very funky when he wanted to be. Tonight he died at age 72 from complications from Saturday's heart attack.

Amy Grant may have made CCM popular; Andrae made it sound great.

Naturally, years later, when I became gospel music editor for Billboard magazine, one of my first columns was on Crouch. When I wrote People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music, Andrae was featured in his own chapter (along with Alex Bradford and James Cleveland).

When Michael Jackson or Madonna or Quincy Jones needed a gospel song or a gospel chorus, they called Andrae. That’s his music on the soundtrack to The ...

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Remembering Andrae Crouch, Dead at 72
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