Andrae Crouch, a legendary gospel performer, songwriter and choir director whose work graced songs by Michael Jackson and Madonna and movies such as “The Lion King,” has died. He was 72.
Crouch died Thursday, January 8th, 2015 in the afternoon at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he had been admitted Saturday after suffering a heart attack, said his publicist, Brian Mayes.
The Recording Academy, which awarded seven Grammys to Crouch during a career that spanned more than 50 years, said in a statement that he was “a remarkable musician and legendary figure” who was “fiercely devoted to evolving the sound of contemporary, urban gospel music.”
Crouch had health issues in recent years, including diabetes and cancer. In December, he was hospitalized after suffering a bout with pneumonia and congestive heart failure prompting him to cancel his “Let The Church Say Amen Celebration Tour” slated to start December 9 in Philadelphia.
Crouch and his twin sister, Sandra Crouch, also a singer, lived in the Pacoima area of Los Angeles. They were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in the Los Angeles suburb of San Fernando.
“Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord,” said Pastor Sandra Crouch. “I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.”
Crouch’s success came despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia. He pinned his first gospel song at the age of 14. To create, he would make drawings that allowed him to grasp the concept. For the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror”, he drew a mirror with an image in it.
Pastor Sandra Crouch reports that her brother got his start in music at their father’s small church, which was opened in a garage in the San Fernando Valley in 1951. Their father needed a piano player for the church, prayed on it, and three weeks later Crouch was working the keys.
His work in gospel can be summed up in this quote from Crouch, “I think that when we like songs in gospel and it hits that part of the soul or the mind that brings back familiarity to the person or to the listeners, I think we zero in on something that will always be needed. It touches that part of their heart that has been untouched or maybe it has been touched, but they never wanted to admit it. I think that when they get back to that, I think that we are still in a place that people enjoy it the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.”