Andraé Crouch, one of the premier voices in Gospel music, died today days after suffering a heart attack over the weekend. The pioneering musician was 72.

Crouch, born July 1, 1942, was a native of San Francisco and called to the ministry at an early age. By the time Crouch was 14, he had already written his first gospel song. A member of the Church of God in Christ, Crouch formed a singing group with the late Billy Preston on keyboards. The group was most famous fort the song ,“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”

Although rooted in the ways of traditional gospel music, Crouch helped to modernize the genre and has been called the “Father of Modern Gospel Music” by some. In the 1960s, Crouch merged the steadier grooves R&B music with his gospel lyrics and ushered in a fresh and contemporary sound. Crouch faced criticism for his melding of the genres, but it proved to spread his church’s message far and wide while influencing others. Singers Elvis Presley and Paul Simon have recorded covers of Crouch’s music.

With is group, The Disciples, Crouch recorded eight albums. As a soloist, Crouch released nine albums with the most recent, The Journey, hitting the public in 2011. Crouch has been featured as a vocalist on several other recordings as well since the 1970s. Crouch also won seven Grammys and an Academy Award nomination for his work on the music for the 1985 film, The Color Purple.

Crouch led the chorus of voices on Michael Jackson’s hit, “Man In The Mirror” and did the same for Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” track.

Crouch was dyslexic and suffered with a speech impediment, and his sister, Sandra Crouch served as his spokesperson and both siblings were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, Calif. Their father was also a minister, thus the siblings continued a family tradition.

Crouch has battled a series of health issues over the years, including cancer and diabetes. He was hospitalized in December for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Since last Saturday, Crouch had been hospitalized in Los Angeles.

Rest Powerfully, Brother Crouch.

Photo: Eirik Voss/CC By-SA 3.0

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