It seems that 2014 ended and 2015 began with farewells. Joe Cocker, whose distinctive voice can be heard in the previous post (I Think It’s Going to Rain) passed away on December 22. I devoted that post to the loss of a family pet (Kes) and mentioned the death of Andrae Crouch on January 8th, 2015. I want to “take a little time” (the title of one of his songs) to celebrate his contribution to music, particularly gospel music. That he was an important influence for me can be easily proven by looking back to my second post (‘way back in September 2010). After a brief (self) introduction, I spoke about some of my musical roots… and Andrae Crouch was my first entry. I could write a daily post for a year, include a different Crouch song/performance for each day and probably have lots of songs to spare. But that is a project for some future date. For now, I just want to remember his gifts as a composer, pianist and vocalist. The songs below aren’t his most famous (necessarily) but I’ve included them because they showcase him alone… without the elaborate production often heard in his recordings/video performances.
Early in his career he was a featured musical guest during the Billy Graham crusades. Here he is performing one of the first “Crouch songs” I ever heard… Through It All (note that the song begins about 3:15 into the video… if you want to bypass the introduction.)
Here is another BG performance… Andrae having some fun with You Don’t Have to Jump No Pews…
In that earlier (2010) post I included a video clip of a live performance of It’s Not Just a Story. Here’s the same song but from a different concert…
Yes, listen carefully and you’ll hear organ, drums and such in the background. But it’s still basically Andrae singin’/piano playin’ on If Heaven Was Never Promised to Me…
Of course, over the years I’ve tried to play a number of Crouch songs… here I am with a quickie piano version of this piece.
Along with his many musical triumphs, Crouch also faced serious health challenges. He dealt with both cancer and diabetes during his lifetime and congestive heart failure led to his final passing this year. His poor health is much in evidence along with his genius in this song-laced interview given more recently. The first song mentioned, The Blood Will Never Lose It Power, was written when he was 14 or 15 (date varies) and published shortly after.
On his 1997 album Pray, Crouch included a song titled Until Jesus Comes.
By the way, that organist (on the clip) is none other than Billy Preston, who played with Crouch in his early years (circa 1960). Preston went on to considerable fame in his own right and even performed with The Beatles on several albums (and actually credited on their Get Back single). He even co-wrote You Are So Beautiful which became a huge hit for Joe Cocker (feels like we’ve come full circle on this one!)
Back to Andrae Crouch… when you consider his body of work, his talent and the fact that he was largely self-taught on the piano as a child, you can’t help but think of the words “God-given” and “gift”.