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Gospel Legend Andrae Crouch’s Memory Lives on In Melodies

Image: (FILE) Gospel Singer Andrae Crouch Dies At 72 Andrae Crouch At The Piano

Gospel singer Andrae Crouch, winner of 7 Grammy Awards, has died at 72. CIRCA 1976: Singer and composer Andrae Crouch plays the piano as he sings in to a microphone in circa 1976. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images Contributor

Crouch's songs fueled the flames of my burning desire to become a gospel musician and songwriter. To me he was a musical genius who could arrange melodies to stir the soul and write lyrics to prick the heart.

"The blood that gives me strength from day to day, it will never lose its power ..."

These soulful lyrics by gospel trailblazer Andraé Crouch rang in my ears upon learning of his death. Crouch died on Thursday at Northridge Hospital in the Los Angeles area from complications of a heart attack.

The music of Andraé Crouch has touched my life for as long as I can remember. During my early childhood, Mom played his "More of the Best" album like a broken record. Yet, the more she played it, the more I grew to love his songs "Soon and Very Soon" and "The Sweet Love of Jesus."

Crouch's songs fueled the flames of my burning desire to become a gospel musician and songwriter. To me he was a musical genius who could arrange melodies to stir the soul and write lyrics to prick the heart. I strive to create songs with the depth of Crouch's "Take Me Back" and "Oh It Is Jesus."

When speaking of his music, many testify of songs of deliverance and healing.

"When I was 12, I sang on the youth choir at my church and was asked to lead 'Take Me Back,'" recalls praise and worship singer Vonte Boyd of River of Life Church in Orlando, Florida. "I remember really thinking about the words as I led that song one Sunday morning. It was those words that led me to give my life to Jesus that day."

Minister Jason Hall, a Los Angeles native, reflects on the personal effects of "Through It All."

"'Through It All' really impacted my life because my mother used to sing that song when we were young. My father had left the home, and we were struggling financially, mentally and spiritually. When she would sing that song, it would help keep hope alive in my life, in my heart and in my mind."

As a military child, I was afforded the opportunity of fellowship with churches of diverse backgrounds. In my experience, I witnessed the music of Andraé Crouch reaching beyond denomination, age and race.

"Andraé released songs that were so impactful to the nation and to the church that his regular songs for records became hymns. If you look in certain hymnals right now, 'Soon and Very Soon' is in the hymnal," says gospel artist and producer Larry Clark.

Bishop Jimmy Smith, pastor of Bible Truth Apostolic Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, often incorporates Crouch's songs in his services. "I have been a follower of Andraé Crouch since the early 1970s. We've been singing his songs at our annual conventions since 1993," says Bishop Smith.

Crouch's songs fueled the flames of my burning desire to become a gospel musician and songwriter. To me he was a musical genius who could arrange melodies to stir the soul and write lyrics to prick the heart.

"Andraé Crouch's music is a reflection of gospel music that holds water within itself. No matter how many times you hear it, it always provides refreshment, encouragement and empowerment for the soul," says Pastor Corey Thompson of Mt. Rona Baptist Church of Forestville, Maryland.

In almost every church I have attended, Andraé Crouch's version of the notable hymn "I Surrender All" has been sung to invoke the act of submission to God during altar calls. In fact, it was one of the very first songs I learned to play, inspiring me to write and perform my own version of the song.

"Andraé helped pave the way for a lot of us artists. He wasn't only a trend setter, but he knew how to reach all kinds of audiences," says legendary gospel artist Twinkie Clark. "There's just so many styles and facets of music in his writing,"

His musical influence and style reached audiences beyond the gospel community, as evidenced by his work with "The Lion King" on broadway, films like "The Color Purple" and mainstream pop artists. His talents garnered four Gospel Music Association Awards and seven Grammys.

Pastor Crouch is remembered for his compassion as well as his musical talents. Minister Kevin Mickie of Shift Nation Ministries reflects on Crouch's love for people. "When I met him, I asked him what advice he would give to a musician, soloist or pastor. He didn't give me the best chord; he didn't give me the 2-5-1 progression; he didn't say practice or study; he didn't give me any marketing tips. He said, 'Love everybody.'"

The remake of his hit "Soon and Very Soon," by Larry and Twinkie Clark, will be released Tuesday — a much-anticipated release among gospel music lovers everywhere.

Truly, Pastor Andraé Crouch will be missed but never forgotten.