A Life Mentored to the Tune of Andrae Crouch’s Music

Through his music, Andrae Crouch has been a part of my life as far back as my earliest memories. Since the evening I heard of his passing on January 8, 2015, I’ve found comfort in this loss by strolling down memory lane with his songs.

The first song I replayed after receiving the news was “Take Me Back.” Here’s what I posted that night:

I am so saddened by the news of Andre Crouch’s passing, though I know he is rejoicing with his Savior. I can’t tell you how much his music has influenced my life. I could share MANY songs of his and tell you the place in my life where the song had impact, but this one song is the one I have gone back to over and over again. I first heard it on vinyl, so I chose this version to share tonight. 

I’m so glad Pastor Andrae taught me at a very young age that I can always return to God no matter how far I’ve strayed … and He will always take me back no matter what I’ve done.

My mother loved Andrae Crouch, too, so his was the first concert she ever took me to see. We saw him a couple times. The concerts were so spiritually uplifting, but as a young teenager, I was also delighted to see how much fun Christians could have.

The image of Andrae performing “It’s Gonna Rain” at the St. Louis Kiel Opera House while dancing with an umbrella (as well as umbrellas for the choir) still brings a smile. And then – mom and I were cracking up laughing about this as we relived the memory today – at some point in the evening a choir was raised from below the stage on a lift. After singing a great “holy-rolling” number, they were taken back down below the stage but we could still see them from the balcony. That’s when the Spirit really started to move and they were having their own dance party/church service down in the pit. The audience in the floor seating couldn’t see what was going on, but they sure could hear it. The plan was to bring the choir back up for an encore, but when they did the choir members were so disheveled it took a few minutes to get them back in place to continue the singing.

Click here to see Andrae perform “It’s Gonna Rain” – but sorry, you won’t get to see the choir in action.

At that concert, as well as many other times in various recordings, I remember Andrae declaring, “We’re not just doing a concert here, we’re gonna have church!” And have church we did. I’ve “had church” in the privacy of my own home (or car, or workplace) so often with his music. The following clip is an example of how, just when you thought Andrae was done with a song, he’d take it to another level. At the end of the clip, you’ll also hear brother Crouch tell how he came to write such beautiful music despite the fact that he didn’t read music.

Andrae Crouch taught me the power of prayer and instilled in me the desire to “have church” with God’s people, whether in person or “in spirit.” I know first hand how powerfully the Spirit ministered to people through Andrae’s music.
I took solace in this fact when my cassette of his Mercy (1994) album was inside the walkman that was stolen from my desk when I was a teacher at Jennings High School. I prayed the student who took it would listen to the album and be drawn to God through it. I especially hoped they’d listen to the lyrics of the title song, “Mercy.” (You can click here to take a listen to that one.)

Brother Andrae showed me the power of Christian music to lift the soul. I replaced the Mercy cassette immediately as it was a bright spot in my difficult work days. So often in my teen years I would load up the record player, sit back and just soak in the smooth, sweet sounds of songs like “He Never Sleeps” (the first song on Andrae Crouch & The Disciples’ first album – Take the Message Everywhere) or Wade in the Water”  – songs that demonstrated gospel music could be both spiritual and cool. I finally had music I felt I could share with my friends.

The impact of this music has spanned so many decades of my life it is difficult to whittle down the list to just a few examples in this post. In fact, I started writing this the day after his passing, but every time I started to finish it up I’d get lost listening to the multitude of songs I just had to hear again. So, I’ll let you link here to a great medley of some of his most popular songs. I was shocked to have someone tell me recently they’d never heard any of Andrae’s music. I said, “I bet you have, even in your church or by other artists, and just didn’t realize it was his.”

One of the most recognizable lines from an Andrae Crouch song is “to God be the glory for the things He has done.” I’m thankful this dear brother in Christ allowed God to use him and indeed did bring glory to his Savior. His impact on individual lives is immeasurable. Beyond that, though, is the rippling effect his music had on the Christian music scene, helping it to cross over into mainstream and laying the groundwork for so many Christian artists to come.

I absolutely love the following rendition of “My Tribute” where Andrae is accompanied by the “All-Star Choir.” The gathering of so many diverse singers, from old-timers like Larry Norman (“the grandfather of Christian rock”) and Vestal Goodman (“the queen of southern Gospel) to more contemporary artists represents the broad scope of his influence. The compilation of decades and genres represented is a true legacy.

I pray I live up to his example of giving God the glory for any good thing that happens to me or through me for the good of others.

Brother Andrae, you have truly mentored me through your music and example. I will miss you greatly, but I rejoice that you have finally realized the completion of your journey and are enjoying the fruit of your labors. For now, I’ll continue to sing the songs you lovingly brought to me and look forward in hope to that which can only be imagined by those of us who will join you there someday.

 

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