by Robert Earl Houston
This evening (January 8, 2015) the body of Christ lost its metronome. Pastor Andrae Crouch went home to be with the Lord at the age of 72 in Southern California.
If you were in Choirs or a musician (or a budding musician as I was in the 1970s) your world was turned upside down by the persona of Andrae Crouch. He was so different from the rest of the crowd. James Cleveland, Clay Evans, Thomas Whitfield, and others who were “church” – with suits and ties and minimal instrumentation, and along comes a hip, cool brother – wearing open collars, hats, bell bottom slacks, with piano, organ (Billy Preston was his organist), drums, bass, and literally ignited a debate about what was and wasn’t gospel music. He took it to a dimension the church had never seen before.
He made gospel music available to everyone. I was reading through Twitter tonight and struck by the color of the voices that commented on his death. Theologians praised him for his accuracy of lyrics. Current songwriters and gospel artists have laid great accolades upon him.
Andrae Crouch was never a gospel artist. He was a brother who loved God, without saying it proved that you didn’t have to be completely clean cut to serve God, that your appearance did not speak to your destiny, and that young people had a place in sharing the gospel even through song. He was too cool to be called an artist – that term could not adequately describe what Andrae Crouch was to the church.
What struck me was how he conquered life issues and did not allow them to stop him from serving God. He not only followed the beat from a different drum – he changed the beat. He rejected the notion that God could not use certain persons even as he struggled with dyslexia. He and his sister picked up the mantle of their parents’ church and it flourished by loving people.
I’m amazed that in his very young years he wrote “The Blood Will Never Lose His Power,” He actually penned for James Cleveland, “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus.” He wrote the songs of the church – and as a musician I appreciated that what he recorded, you could play. His recordings were crystal clear and you could write the lyrics with ease.
Man, he wrote and/or recorded songs like “Jesus is Lord,” “I Will Bless the Lord,” “Tell Them,” “My Tribute (To God Be The Glory),” “Take Me Back,” “Jesus Is The Answer,””Through It All,””The Broken Vessel,” “It’s Gonna Rain,””I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loves Me,” up to his recent anthem for the Church, “Let the Church Say Amen.”
In an era of people who record gospel music for the sake of money and fame, Andrae Crouch is a great reminder that serving the Lord will pay off. He yielded himself to Him and the Lord blessed him tremendously. He changed COGICs, Baptists, Methodists, Whites, Blacks, Educated, Educators and Common People with the stroke of a pen.
Certainly we pray for his sister, the Crouch Family, and their church in Southern California. Thank you Andrae for demonstrating that you don’t need a title to be substantive.