Andraé Crouch was one of the most renowned and widely respected pioneers of contemporary gospel music. By combining such classic gospel music elements as call-and-response and choir, along with pop songwriting techniques and production, Crouch's style influenced countless other artists. Born July 1, 1942, in San Francisco, California, Crouch got his musical start at his father's church in the Los Angeles area, singing, playing piano, and before ten years of age, writing his own songs (despite being entirely self-taught). Crouch formed his first serious gospel group during the early '60s, Andraé Crouch & the Disciples, although it wasn't until 1977 that the group issued its first release, This Is Another Day (eventually, the "Disciples" name would be dropped, as the albums were credited solely to Crouch).
Crouch's career quickly began to soar; he steadily kept issuing albums — including standout releases like 1978's self-titled release, 1981's Don't Give Up, 1982's Live at Carnegie Hall, 1997's Pray, and 1998's Gift of Christmas — as well as penning the modern gospel classics "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power." In addition, Crouch toured across the globe (including Europe, Africa, the Far East, and the U.S.); collaborated with such acclaimed pop artists as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and Madonna; received a total of nine Grammy Awards and an Academy Award nomination; and contributed to the soundtracks of such movies as The Lion King and Free Willy.
Crouch was inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he was the subject of a tribute album, Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch, which included spirited renditions of Crouch tunes done by the likes of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Take 6, the Winans, and an album-closing finale of "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" that included Patti Austin, BeBe Winans, Susan Ashton, and Vestal Goodman among others, as part of a 70-voice all-star choir. Along with numerous guest appearances and a hectic touring schedule, Crouch released Mighty Wind in 2005, the 40th anniversary of his recording debut. The Journey followed in 2011, and Live in Los Angeles two years later. He died of a heart attack in early 2015, at the age of 72. ~ Greg Prato & Thom Granger