If you had not heard by now, Andraé Crouch, singer-songwriter, died yesterday at the age of 72. This news hit me particularly hard since his most famous work, The Blood will never lose its power (embedded below) has served as a sort of anthem for my life for nearly 20 years now. I don’t remember the date when I first heard the song but I remember the setting and the one who played it for me. I was single, still working in local news and sitting in the church sanctuary on a random Saturday afternoon listening to Buck Mathews prepare for Sunday morning worship services. I asked if he knew any gospel blues and he dialed up The Blood will never lose its power. I had never heard the song. I was transfixed. It wasn’t just the bluesy melody that resonated (although IT. DID. RESONATE.) it was also the lyrics. From the opening line: The blood that Jesus shed for me (He did that for me??) to the second verse where Crouch sings the truth that the blood of Christ has never-ending power to do so much: It soothes doubts / calms fears / and it dries all my tears; it gives strength day to day and never (ever) loses its power. I am living proof that it does that and so much more.
The story is told that Crouch wrote that song when he was only 15 but promptly tossed it in the trash thinking it was inferior. Only after his sister went and salvaged it (and thank God she did!) did he keep it, record it and it became the world-wide hit that it is today. Of course, this wasn’t the only song that Crouch wrote or sang. He was a seven time grammy winner who was an almost immediate success. Put it this way, when you begin your career playing with the likes of Billy Preston you are going to go somewhere. His career was so widespread he even arranged and led choirs to sing on albums as far ranging as Michael Jackson and Madonna. He worked as a producer and arranger for Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Elton John and was nominated for an academy award for his musical work on the film The Color Purple. Elvis Presley even covered one of Crouch’s earlier works: I’ve got confidence. Crouch’s life (like all of us) wasn’t without difficulty or challenge. He had a few run-ins with the police over drug usage in the early 80’s and battled cancer late in his life. Crouch never married nor had children but always remained close to his family. In the early 90’s with the death of his father, mother and brother, all in a two year span, Crouch focused the rest of his life serving alongside his sister as co-pastors of the church his family started years prior. It was in December of this past year that Crouch was hospitalized for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He was hospitalized again on January 3rd from a heart attack and died five days later. Andraé Crouch, dead at the age of 72. Man knows not his time.