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Gospel Music Legend Andrae Crouch Dies at 72

Seven-time Grammy-winning Gospel music singer, songwriter and arranger Andrae Crouch died on January 8 at a hospital in Northridge, Calif. He was 72.

Crouch was forced to cancel a tour after contracting pneumonia last December, and suffered a heart attack on Jan. 3, according to a statement from his sister earlier this week. His death was first reported by USA Today.

Active since the 1960s, the Southern California native was notable for incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the Gospel tradition, helping to pave a path for much of contemporary Christian music in the process. Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Quincy Jones were among Crouch’s many secular music collaborators, and he conducted choir parts for such pop hits as Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

Crouch began performing and writing music as a child, and his early group the Church of God in Christ Singers included future Beatles collaborator Billy Preston. (Crouch’s teenage composition “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” became a standard after the Church of God in Christ Singers recorded it in the late 1960s.) He later formed group Andrae Crouch and the Disciples, which cut several albums for the Light Records label, as well as recording as a solo artist. Other noteworthy Crouch compositions include “Soon and Very Soon,” “Bless His Holy Name,” “Jesus Is the Answer” (which appeared on a live Paul Simon album) and “I’ve Got Confidence” (covered by Elvis Presley in 1972).

In addition to his work with pop artists, Crouch also contributed original arrangements to films such as “The Color Purple” and “The Lion King,” as well as NBC series “Amen.” Crouch was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and he became only the third Gospel artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

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