Andrae Crouch, Legendary Gospel Figure, Dies at 72
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LOS ANGELES — 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,” died on Thursday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 72.
His death was announced by his publicist, Brian Mayes, who said he had been admitted to the hospital on Saturday after suffering a heart attack.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Crouch was born in San Francisco and wrote his first gospel tune at age 14. He went on to write dozens of songs, including gospel favorites like “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” ‘'My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” and “Soon and Very Soon,” which was sung at a public memorial for Michael Jackson.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Crouch helped pioneer the burgeoning “Jesus music” movement that started the spread of contemporary Christian music.
His influence also crossed over into in pop music. Elvis Presley performed his song “I’ve Got Confidence” for a 1972 gospel album, and Paul Simon recorded his “Jesus Is the Answer” for a 1974 live album.
Mr. Crouch worked with many other stars, from Diana Ross to Ringo Starr, and his gospel albums sometimes featured performers from other musical genres. His 18th solo album, “The Journey,” released in 2011, featured Chaka Khan, Shelia E., Take 6, Kim Burrell and Marvin Winans.
Mr. Crouch was one of only a handful of gospel performers to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His choir, the Disciples, sang background for Madonna’s song “Like a Prayer.” Mr. Crouch helped Michael Jackson arrange his 1987 hit “Man in the Mirror.”
He also arranged music for the 1985 film “The Color Purple” — which earned him an Academy Award nomination — and Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1994.
His success came despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia. To create, he would make drawings that allowed him to grasp the concept. For the Jackson song, he drew a mirror with an image in it.
“I memorized everything through sight, the shape of the word,” Mr. Crouch told The Associated Press in 2011. “Some things that I write, you’ll see a page with cartoon pictures or a drawing of a car — like a Ford — or a flag. I still do it on an occasion when a word is strange to me.”
“So when I finish a song, I thank God for bringing me through,” he continued. “You have to press on and know your calling. That’s what I’ve been doing for all my life. I just went forward.”
Mr. Crouch had health issues in recent years, including diabetes and cancer. Last month he was hospitalized for pneumonia and congestive heart failure and had to cancel a tour.
The Recording Academy, which awarded seven Grammys to Mr. Crouch during a career that spanned more than a half-century, 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.”
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