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Crouch, Andraé

Andraé Crouch

Singer, composer, pianist, producer

For the Record

The Disciples Discovered

Broadened Scope

Explored Other Media

Selected discography

Sources

Long before Amy Grant, Chris Christian, and B. J. Thomas were thinking about it, Andraé Crouch was doing it, wrote Bob Darden in Billboard magazine.Along with Larry Norman, Crouch is one of religious musics original groundbreakers.Indeed, as contemporary gospels perennial frontrunner, Crouch is most widely recognized as the first black gospel artist to appeal to both religious and secular audiences across multiracial lines. A prolific songwriter with some 300 titles to his creditmany of which have become industry standardsCrouch has been a driving force since he appeared on the music scene in the late 1960s. Darden elaborated by noting that the six-time Grammy winner was the first to receive significant airplay and sales in the mainstream marketplace, the first contemporary gospel act (as Andraé Crouch and the Disciples) to appear on national television, and the first to accumulate more than a million in sales. According to Walter Rico Burrell in Ebony magazine, Crouch hascleverly combined elements of disco, progressive jazz, rhythm and blues, pop and even rock, while at the same time walking a fine line between his traditional grass roots gospel background and outright top-40 funk.... He has carved a niche for himself in the music world usually reserved for non-religious artists.

Perhaps because of his enormous success, Crouch has had his share of detractors who, according to Ed Ochs in Billboard, say that [he] is not a gospel artist anymore, but a pop artist singing gospel lyrics. His use of electronic and acoustic instruments as well as his nontraditional lyrics have garnered a significant amount of criticism from those who think he has strayed too far from his roots. In particular, Crouchs 1981 venture with Warner Bros.resulting in the release of the heavily commercial album Dont Give Up elicited accusations that Crouch had sold out. Yet Crouch remains faithful to his interpretation of gospel music and his mission as a singer: God gave me my talent to use for Him and Ill use it for Him all my life, he was quoted as saying in a publicity release from his agent. My reward is my music. Love is the main message of the Bible, and thats what I want to portray in my music.

Crouch was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. As children, he and his twin sister, Sandra, and their older brother, Benjamin, formed a group called The Crouch Trio. Their father was a street preacher who eventually wound up with a church of his own in Val Verde, California. At the age of nine Crouch became a Christian, and at age eleven hereceived the gift of music, as he put it in his autobiography, Through It All, which enabled him to become the pianist at his fathers small church. Though he had no formal training, Crouch

For the Record

Born Andraé Edward Crouch, July 1, 1942, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Benjamin Jerome (a preacher and owner of a dry-cleaning business) and Catherine Dorothea (maiden name, Hodnett; a homemaker and dry cleaner) Crouch. Education: Studied elementary education, Valley Junior College, San Fernando, CA; studied personal evangelism and scripture, LIFE Bible College, Los Angeles. Religion: Pentecostal Church of God in Christ.

Gospel singer, songwriter, pianist, and record producer. Debuted as gospel singer with the COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers) while in high school; organized group the Disciples, 1965, and toured with them as lead singer and pianist until 1980; first album, Take the Message Everywhere, released by Light Records, 1971; recorded 12 additional albums for Light featuring contemporary gospel music, including No Time to Lose, produced by Crouch Music Corporation, 1984; recorded nontraditional gospel album for Warner Bros., Dont Give Up, 1981. Formed Andraé Crouch Choir; performed and collaborated with other artists, 1981. Author of autobiography, Through It All, Word Books, 1974.

Selected awards: Grammy awards with the Disciples, 1975, for Take Me Back, 1978, for Live in London, 1979, for ILL Be Thinking of You, 1980, for The Lords Prayer, and 1981, for Dont Give Up; Grammy Award for solo work, 1984, for No Time to Lose; Dove awards, 1976, for This Is Another Day, 1978, for Live in London, and 1984, for No Time to Lose; Daviticus Award, 1979, for Ill Be Thinking of You; Gospel Music Excellence Award for best male vocalist, 1982, for More of the Best; ASCAP Special Songwriter Award; two NAACP Image awards; Golden Halo Award; Oscar nomination.

Addresses: Agent Triad Artists, Inc., 10100 Santa Monica Blvd., 16th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Management The Hervey Company, 9034 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90069.

played at all services and later started a choir. By the time he was 14, Crouch had written his first song, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power. When he was in junior high school, the family moved to Pacoima near the San Fernando Valley, where Crouchs father became the pastor of the fledgling Christ Memorial Church.

While in high school Crouch formed his first group, the COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers), featuring his twin sister, Sandra, and future Grammy winner Billy Preston. The group recorded an album and received several awards but eventually split up when Preston left to pursue a career in secular music. Following graduation Crouch attended Valley Junior College for two years and later took courses at the LIFE Bible College in Los Angeles. During this time he worked as a counselor and choir director for recovering drug addicts at the local Teen Challenge Center. In the mid-1960s Crouch organized his second group, the Disciples, with whom he would perform as lead singer and pianist for eleven years.

The Disciples Discovered

The Disciples, which included Crouchs sister and Danniebelle Hall as vocalists, were discovered in 1968 by Ralph Carmichael, founder of gospel-oriented Light Records. Their first album, Take the Message Every-where, was released in 1971 to critical acclaim; Crouch debuted as a soloist on the Light label in 1972 with Just Andraé. The Disciples recorded more than half a dozen additional albums for Light before they disbanded in 1980. Their tours throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Far East helped establish a strong foothold in both the traditional gospel and secular soul markets. Andraé Crouch insists he isnt an entertainer, wrote Burrell in Ebony. If you ask him, hell tell you hes a minister spreading Gods word through song. The simple truth of the matter is that Crouch has concocted a winning formula of highly energized rhythm and blues production values and techniques of song construction with explosively charged religious messages, and has emerged as one of the hottest, most commercially successful practitioners of gospel music in the country, if not the entire world.

In 1975 Andraé Crouch and the Disciples became the first gospel group to perform for sold-out crowds at New York Citys Carnegie Hall, to which they returned in 1979 with similar fanfare. The group was also the first of its kind to perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Royal Albert Hall in London. Later, Crouch became the first gospel artist to perform in New Yorks Radio City Music Hall. In 1980 Crouch and the Disciples broke ground again as the first gospel group to perform on NBC-TVs Saturday Night Live; a second solo performance by Crouch followed four years later when then-presidential candidate Jesse Jackson hosted the show. During their decade-long roll Crouch and the Disciples were honored with multiple awards including four consecutive Grammies for each original work produced between 1978 and 1981, and several Dove awards, gospel musics equivalent of the Grammy.

Broadened Scope

In 1981 Crouchs first album without the Disciples, Dont Give Up, was released by Warner Brothers amid much controversy. It was the first of a planned four-record deal negotiated in an attempt to broaden Crouchs foothold in the secular market. The album included songs about abortion and prostitution and was the product of more sophisticated sound engineering. At the same time, Crouch signed with Light Records for another four albums so as not to lose his main audience. Every album Ive done has been controversial, Crouch told Billboards Cary Darling. I feel this album [Dont Give Up] has the potential to reach a different kind of person than the Light Records audience.Its not anything new for me. Its just time for me to say it.

Reviews were generally positive: With a vocal style and arrangements reminiscent of [Motown legend] Stevie Wonder, Crouch lets his message flow naturally on upbeat numbers like I Cant Keep It to Myself, Dont Give Up, and Start All Over Again, People magazine noted. His convictions are unmistakable, but this is also a classy R&B work. In 1984 Crouch released No Time to Lose, the first record distributed by Light on the Crouch Music Corporation label. Peter Gross of the Christian Herald deemed it a hit, noting that the album had a refined, polished sound that dances off the grooves.

Sometimes Crouchs music translated better on vinyl than in person, however. Gospel-goes-disco and ends up a wallflower best describes Andraé Crouchs 60-minute turn of pop/secular music, a Variety reviewer commented about a 1982 concert. The band rocked, in the rock n roll sense rather than in the gospel tradition, much to the chagrin of the audience, who were as quiet as the proverbial church mouse throughout several tunes. Several years later another concert was reviewed in Variety that deemed Crouch straightforward and big-voicedbut there was an element of calculation about his performance.

Explored Other Media

In 1986 Crouch became the first contemporary religious artist to receive an Oscar nomination for his work as gospel historian on the film adaptation of Alice Walkers novel The Color Purple. Working under the direction of famed record producer Quincy Jones, the films executive producer and music supervisor, Crouch wrote 15 songs and directed and sang with all gospel choirs on the soundtrack. The rousing Gospel sound was praised by Chris Albertson in Stereo Review. This collaboration led to future work on Joness Back on the Block album, as well as to work with pop artists Michael Jackson (on his Bad and Dangerous albums) and Madonna (on Like a Prayer). Crouch ventured into the television market when he wrote and produced the theme song Shine on Me for NBCs long-running sitcom Amen.

In addition to orchestrating his own successful career, Crouch helped launch the careers of other gospel artists. He and his sister Sandra co-produced her Grammy-winning debut album, We Sing Praises, as well as her follow-up album, Were Waiting. He also produced Introducing the Winans, the debut album of the three-time Grammy-winning group. Other musicians Crouch has assisted include Walter and Tremaine Hawkins, Gloria Jones, and Tata Vega, who is most recognized for her vocals in the film The Color Purple. Mainstream chart-topping artists who have recorded Crouchs songs include Elvis Presley, Barbara Mandrell, and Paul Simon.

Crouch has been sporadically working on material for a new album since 1984. In his autobiography, Crouch wrote of his music: God just happens to use me. Im not His first choice, not His second, maybe not even His hundredth; but so be it, He chose me. He gave me some songs and you just happen to hear those songs. I trust that through it all, something I write or sing will be a blessing to you.

Selected discography

With the Disciples; on Light Records/Lexicon Music, Inc.

Take the Message Everywhere, 1971.

Keep On Singing, 1971.

Soulfully, 1972.

Live at Carnegie Hall, 1973.

Take Me Back, 1974.

This Is Another Day, 1976.

Live in London, 1978.

lll Be Thinking of You, 1979.

Solo releases

Just Andraé, Light Records/Lexicon Music, Inc., 1973.

Dont Give Up, Warner Bros., 1981.

Andraé CrouchMore of the Best, Light Records/Lexicon Music, Inc., 1982.

Finally, Light Records/Lexicon Music, Inc., 1982. No Time to Lose, Crouch Music Corporation/Light Records, 1984.

Composer of Amen theme song, Shine on Me, NBC-TV.

Sources

Books

Crouch, Andraé, and Nina Ball, Through It All, Word Books, 1974. Jenkins, Keith Bernard, The Rhetoric of Gospel Song: A Content

Analysis of the Lyrics of Andraé Crouch (dissertation), Florida State University, Fall 1990.

Peroidicals

Billboard, September 27, 1980; November 7, 1981; March 22, 1986.

Christian Herald, May 1983.

Christianity Today, March 4, 1983.

Ebony, September 1982.

Jet, August 23, 1982; September 13, 1982.

People, January 29, 1982.

Stereo Review, June 1986.

Variety, September 1, 1982; July 2, 1986.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Light Records, 1992, courtesy of Triad Artists, Inc.

Mary Scott Dye

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Crouch, Andraé

Andraé Crouch

Gospel singer, pianist, composer

In an era when religious music in contemporary styles seems a significant and permanent part of the musical landscape, it is important to remember that at one time gospel music, especially, was almost exclusively rooted in long traditions. One person above all others expanded the gospel vocabulary to include elements of R&B and modern popular styles. Contemporary gospel's pioneer was Andraé Crouch, who over a thirty-year career has become one of the most influential musicians in the United States. Both the wide swath of black gospel performers who draw on R&B and the legions of white contemporary Christian artists who blur the line between sacred and secular with middle-of-the-road romantic styles owe Crouch a musical debt.

Crouch was born in Los Angeles on July 1, 1942. His twin sister Sandra and older brother Benjamin were both musical, and he is also the cousin of noted jazz critic Stanley Crouch. The three Crouch children sang in a trio at the behest of their father, who had begun to preach in order to strengthen his prayers to God that his son might be given musical talent. One Sunday, when Andraé was 11, his father preached at a church in Val Verde, California, and then called Andraé to the piano to accompany the church's choir in the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Although Andraé, according to his own recollections, had never played the piano before, he performed successfully.

Music helped Crouch overcome shyness and a stammering impediment. "I started singing what I had to say," he recalled to People. "People became music to me because everything they said was a song." Indeed, Crouch began composing songs at age 14 and has never really slowed down; he still composes each morning during the prayers for which he rises at 6 a.m. Crouch moved with his family to the San Fernando Valley suburb of Pacoima when he was in junior high school, and his musical talents burgeoned.

Formed Group with Billy Preston

In high school Crouch formed a group called the COGICS (an acronym for Church of God in Christ Singers) which also included vocalist Billy Preston of "Will It Go Round in Circles?" fame. Crouch attended Valley Junior College and Life Bible College in the Los Angeles area and counseled recovering drug addicts, but his heart was in music. By the mid-1960s he had put together another group, the Disciples, and the first of six Andraé Crouch and the Disciples albums, Take the Message Everywhere, was released in 1971 on the Light label.

Crouch's solo career began with the LP Just Andraé; in 1972, and throughout the 1970s his reputation rose steadily. Crouch and the Disciples toured worldwide, and in 1975 and 1979 they performed to sellout crowds at New York's Carnegie Hall. Already they were pushing the boundaries of gospel by introducing features of contemporary R&B styles, and gaining new fans from far outside the usual gospel sphere. Crouch's crossover gospel encompassed several aspects of secular music, including pop-style vocal arrangements, production techniques, and, most important, Crouch's crooned vocals themselves, miles removed from the intense fervor of traditional gospel.

The Disciples stormed another citadel of secular culture with an appearance on the NBC television Saturday Night Live comedy show in 1980; Crouch was later invited back for a solo performance. Crouch and the Disciples took home Grammy awards every year from 1978 through 1981, and Crouch's presence on the annual Dove Christian music awards roster was practically guaranteed for several years. However, Crouch did not let stardom interfere with his songwriting activities, and several of his 1970s compositions, including "Through It All" and "Take Me Back," have entered the gospel tradition's standard repertory.

Criticism from Purists

Despite Crouch's success, he had experienced a certain undertone of criticism from followers of traditional gospel, some of whom felt that his use of secular styles diluted the religious content of his lyrics. These concerns flared into the open with the 1981 release of the solo Crouch release Don't Give Up, which made an explicit bid for sales in the secular market with its up-to-the-minute studio techniques and topical lyrics. Crouch weathered the storm, telling Billboard that "[e]very album I've done has been controversial...It's not anything new for me. It's just time for me to say it." The album was released on the mainstream Warner Brothers label, but Crouch also continued to record for the more gospel-oriented Light label in the early 1980s.

The Crouch bandwagon rolled on for several more years, with the singer adding a new entry to his long list of Grammy awards with one for the No Time to Lose album of 1984. Then spiritual and physical exhaustion set in. In 1982 Crouch was arrested on cocaine possession charges, but maintained that the substance found in his car was instant chicken soup powder. Police eventually declined to press charges, but the experience took its toll on Crouch. "I had been traveling so much, I just decided it was time I got off the road at least part of the time and devoted some time to my family and to my church," he told American Visions. He also produced and composed songs for other artists, including 1980s superstar Michael Jackson, and gained critical acclaim for the historically detailed music he composed and arranged for the 1985 film The Color Purple.

For the Record …

Born Andraé Edward Crouch on July 1, 1942, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Benjamin Jerome (a preacher and dry-cleaning business owner) and Catherine Dorothea Crouch. Education: Studied elementary education, Valley Junior College, San Fernando, CA; religious studies, Life Bible Institute, Los Angeles.

Organized group COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers) while in high school; organized the Disciples, 1965, and toured and recorded with them as lead singer, 1965-80; signed to Light records and released debut album, Take the Message Everywhere, 1971; 12 albums for Light and six solo albums, 1971-84; recorded solo album Don't Give Up in heavily pop-influenced style for Warner Bros., 1981; released Mercy, 1994; producer and collaborator with other artists, 1980s; pastor, Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ, Pacoima, CA, 1995–; released Pray, 1997; Gift of Christmas, 1998; inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame, 1998; released Hall of Fame, 1998; released Legends of Gospel, 2002; Kings of Gospel, 2003; He's Everywhere, 2004.

Awards: Grammy Awards, Best Soul Gospel Performance (with the Disciples) for Take Me Back, 1975; Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Performance (with the Disciples) for Live in London, 1978; Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Performance for I'll Be Thinking of You, 1979; Best Contemporary or Inspirational Soul Gospel Performance (with others) for The Lord's Prayer, 1980; Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Performance for Don't Give Up, 1981; Best Male Soul Gospel Performance for No Time to Lose, 1984; Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album for Mercy, 1994; numerous Dove awards, other gospel awards.

Addresses: Record company—Liquid 8 Records & Entertainment, 4400 Baker Rd., Ste. 600, Minnetonka, MN 55343. Agent—William Morris Agency, 1325 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

Took Over Father's Ministry

Crouch's life took a new direction after his mother, father, and older brother Benjamin all died within a short period between 1993 and 1994. Shortly before his death, Crouch's father had maintained that his son was destined for the ministry—an idea that Crouch had always strongly resisted. "But, he knew I was going to be [a minister] one day," Crouch recalled to Jet. "And before he died, he said, 'Andraé, I want you to be ready. Have three black suits ready at all times.'" Crouch took over his father's Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima after his father's death, although he had little training as a preacher. His brother helped Crouch with the transition before meeting his own end several months later.

Even then, Crouch was unsure of his mission. But, he told People magazine, he had an otherworldly experience that convinced him to step into the pulpit: a mysterious force threw him to the floor as he sat one day listening to a sermon, and he heard a voice telling him to take over the church. "You will tell me yes," Crouch remembered hearing. "I've put too much into you for you to say no. Not 'right on,' not 'uh-huh.' 'Yes!'" The next night, Crouch remembered, he slept through the night for the first time since his mother had died.

Soon, attendance at the church had doubled. Crouch released the Mercy CD in 1994, for which he won yet another Grammy Award. He continued to compose and to make appearances as a performer. But the church consumed the lion's share of his energies during this time.

Despite the controversies that shadowed his own progressive music in the 1970s, he has been critical of certain more recent trends including the incursion of rap styles into gospel music. His enormous place in history, however, is secure, and was illustrated by the release in 1996 of the album Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch. Of the countless gospel artists for whom Crouch's influence was critical, the album featured a representative selection including the Winans, Take 6, and Michael W. Smith.

Crouch continued to record through the 1990s and into the 2000s, releasing Pray in 1997, quickly followed by Gift of Christmas in 1998, Hall of Fame in 1999, Legends of the Gospel in 2002, Kings of Gospel in 2003, and He's Everywhere in 2004.

Selected discography

Solo albums

Just Andraé, Light, 1973.

Don't Give Up, Warner Bros., 1981.

Andraé Crouch–More of the Best, Light, 1982.

Finally, Light, 1982.

No Time to Lose, Light, 1984.

Contemporary Man, Light, 1991.

Let's Worship Him, Arrival/K-Tel, 1993.

Mercy, Quest, 1994.

Pray, Warner Bros., 1997.

Gift of Christmas, Warner Bros., 1998.

Hall of Fame, CGI Platinum, 1999.

Legends of Gospel, Light, 2002.

Kings of Gospel, Universal Special Products, 2003.

He's Everywhere, Liquid 8, 2004.

With the Disciples

Take the Message Everywhere, Light, 1971.

Keep On Singing, Light, 1971.

Soulfully, Light, 1972.

Live at Carnegie Hall, Light, 1973.

Take Me Back, Light, 1974.

This Is Another Day, Light, 1976.

Live in London, Light, 1978.

I'll Be Thinking of You, Light, 1979.

Sources

Books

Crouch, Andraé, Through It All, Word, 1974.

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, editors, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Macmillan, 1986.

Larkin, Colin, editor, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze UK, 1998.

Periodicals

American Visions, August-September 1994, p. 48.

Billboard, November 7, 1981; September 14, 1996, p. 10.

Christianity Today, March 4, 1983, p. 66.

Jet, September 13, 1982, p. 64; October 16, 1995, p. 32.

People, October 23, 1995, p. 103.

Online

"Andrae Crouch," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com

(September 3, 2004). GRAMMY.com, http://www.grammy.com/awards/search/index.aspx (September 3, 2004).

—James M. Manheim andMichael Belfiore

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"Crouch, Andraé." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Crouch, Andraé 1942–

Andraé Crouch 1942

Contemporary gospel music pioneer

Formed Group with Billy Preston

Criticism from Purists

Took Over Fathers Ministry

Selected discography

Sources

In an era when religious music in contemporary styles seems a significant and permanent part of the musical landscape, it is important to remember that at one time gospel music, especially, was almost exclusively rooted in long traditions. One person above all others expanded the gospel vocabulary to include elements of R&B and modern popular styles. Contemporary gospels pioneer was Andraé Crouch, who over a thirty-year career has become one of the most influential musicians in the United States. Both the wide swath of black gospel performers who draw on R&B and the legions of white contemporary Christian artists who blur the line between sacred and secular with middle-of-the-road romantic styles owe Crouch a musical debt.

Crouch was born in Los Angeles on July 1, 1942. His twin sister Sandra and older brother Benjamin were both musical, and he is also the cousin of noted jazz critic Stanley Crouch. The three Crouch children sang in a trio at the behest of their father, who had begun to preach in order to strengthen his prayers to God that his son might be given musical talent. One Sunday, when Andraé was 11, his father preached at a church in Val Verde, California, and then called Andraé to the piano to accompany the churchs choir in the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Although Andraé, according to his own recollections, had never played the piano before, he performed successfully.

Music helped Crouch overcome shyness and a stammering impediment. I started singing what I had to say, he recalled to People. People became music to me because everything they said was a song. Indeed, Crouch began composing songs at age 14 and has never really slowed down; he still composes each morning during the prayers for which he rises at 6 a.m. Crouch moved with his family to the San Fernando Valley suburb of Pacoima when he was in junior high school, and his musical talents burgeoned.

Formed Group with Billy Preston

In high school Crouch formed a group called the COGICS (an acronym for Church of God in Christ Singers) which also included vocalist Billy Preston of Will It Go Round in Circles? fame. Crouch attended Valley Junior College and Life Bible College in the Los Angeles area and counseled recovering drug addicts, but his heart was in music. By the mid-1960s he had

At a Glance

Born Andraé Edward Crouch, July 1, 1942, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Benjamin Jerome (a preacher and dry-cleaning business owner) and Catherine Dorothea Crouch. Education: Studied elementary education, Valley Junior College, San Fernando, CA; religious studies, Life Bible Institute, Los Angeles. Religion: Church of God in Christ.

Career: Gospel singer, composer, pianist, producer. Organized group COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers) while in high school; organized the Disciples, 1965, and toured and recorded with them as lead singer, 1965-80; signed to Light records and released debut album, Take the Message Everywhere, 1971; 12 albums for Light and six solo albums, 1971-84; recorded solo album Dont Give Up in heavily pop-influenced style for Warner Bros., 1981; released Mercy, 1994; producer and collaborator with other artists, 1980s; pastor, Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ, Pacoima, CA, 1995-.

Selected awards Grammy awards, with the Disciples, for Take Me Back, 1975; for Live in London, 1978; for Ill Be Thinking of You, 1979; for The Lords Prayer, 1980; for Dont Give Up, 1981; and for No Time to Lose, 1984; numerous Dove awards, other gospel awards; Oscar nomination for score for The Color Purple, 1986.

Addresses: Record label Qwest Records, 3800 Bar-ham Blvd., Suite 503, Los Angeles, CA 90068; Agent William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

put together another group, the Disciples, and the first of six Andraé Crouch and the Disciples albums, Take the Message Everywhere, was released in 1971 on the Light label.

Crouchs solo career began with the LP Just Andraé in 1972, and throughout the 1970s his reputation rose steadily. Crouch and the Disciples toured worldwide, and in 1975 and 1979 they performed to sellout crowds at New Yorks Carnegie Hall. Already they were pushing the boundaries of gospel by introducing features of contemporary R&B styles, and gaining new fans from far outside the usual gospel sphere. Crouchs crossover gospel encompassed several aspects of secular music, including pop-style vocal arrangements, production techniques, and, most important, Crouchs crooned vocals themselves, miles removed from the intense fervor of traditional gospel.

The Disciples stormed another citadel of secular culture with an appearance on the NBC television Saturday Night Live comedy show in 1980; Crouch was later invited back for a solo performance. Crouch and the Disciples took home Grammy awards every year from 1978 through 1981, and Crouchs presence on the annual Dove Christian music awards roster was practically guaranteed for several years. However, Crouch did not let stardom interfere with his songwriting activities, and several of his 1970s compositions, including Through It All and Take Me Back, have entered the gospel traditions standard repertory.

Criticism from Purists

Despite Crouchs success, he had experienced a certain undertone of criticism from followers of traditional gospel, some of whom felt that his use of secular styles diluted the religious content of his lyrics. These concerns flared into the open with the 1981 release of the solo Crouch release Dont Give Up, which made an explicit bid for sales in the secular market with its up-to-the-minute studio techniques and topical lyrics. Crouch weathered the storm, telling Billboard that [e]very album Ive done has been controversiaL... Its not anything new for me. Its just time for me to say it. The album was released on the mainstream Warner Brothers label, but Crouch also continued to record for the more gospel-oriented Light label in the early 1980s.

The Crouch bandwagon rolled on for several more years, with the singer adding a new entry to his long list of Grammy awards with one for the No Time to Lose album of 1984. Then spiritual and physical exhaustion set in. In 1982 Crouch was arrested on cocaine possession charges, but maintained that the substance found in his car was instant chicken soup powder. Police eventually declined to press charges, but the experience took its toll on Crouch. I had been traveling so much, I just decided it was time I got off the road at least part of the time and devoted some time to my family and to my church, he told American Visions. He also produced and composed songs for other artists, including 1980s superstar Michael Jackson, and gained critical acclaim for the historically detailed music he composed and arranged for the 1985 film The Color Purple.

Took Over Fathers Ministry

Crouchs life took a new direction after his mother, father, and older brother Benjamin all died within a short period between 1993 and 1994. Shortly before his death, Crouchs father had maintained that his son was destined for the ministryan idea that Crouch had always strongly resisted. But, he knew I was going to be [a minister] one day, Crouch recalled to Jet. And before he died, he said, Andraé, I want you to be ready. Have three black suits ready at all times. Crouch took over his fathers Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima after his fathers death, although he had little training as a preacher. His brother helped Crouch with the transition before meeting his own end several months later.

Even then, Crouch was unsure of his mission. But, he told People magazine, he had an otherworldly experience that convinced him to step into the pulpit: a mysterious force threw him to the floor as he sat one day listening to a sermon, and he heard a voice telling him to take over the church. You will tell me yes, Crouch remembered hearing. Ive put too much into you for you to say no. Not right on, not uh-huh. Yes! The next night, Crouch remembered, he slept through the night for the first time since his mother had died.

Soon, attendance at the church had doubled. Crouch released the Mercy CD in 1994, and continues to compose and to make appearances as a performer. But the church consumes the lions share of his energies. Despite the controversies that shadowed his own progressive music in the 1970s, he has been critical of certain recent trends including the incursion of rap styles into gospel music. His enormous place in history, however, is secure, and was illustrated by the release in 1996 of the album Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch. Of the countless gospel artists for whom Crouchs influence was critical, the album featured a representative selection including the Winans, Take 6, and Michael W. Smith.

Selected discography

Andraé Crouch and the Disciples (all on Light Records)

Take the Message Everywhere, 1971.
Keep On Singing, 1971.
Soulfully, 1972.
Live at Carnegie Hall, 1973.
Take Me Back, 1974.
This Is Another Day, 1976.
Live in London, 1978.
Ill Be Thinking of You, 1979.

Solo releases

Just Andraé, Light, 1973.
Dont Give Up, Warner Bros., 1981.
Andraé CrouchMore of the Best, Light, 1982.
Finally, Light, 1982.
No Time to Lose, Light, 1984.
Mercy, Qwest, 1994.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, volume 9, Gale, 1993.

Crouch, Andraé. Through It All. Word, 1974.

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, eds., The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Macmillan, 1986.

Larkin, Colin, ed., The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze UK, 1998.

Periodicals

American Visions, August-September 1994, p. 48. Billboard, November 7, 1981; September 14, 1996, p. 10.

Christianity Today, March 4, 1983, p. 66.

Jet, September 13, 1982, p. 64; October 16, 1995, p. 32.

People, October 23, 1995, p. 103.

James M. Manheim

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