One of the best-kept secrets about LA life is that every Sunday morning one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time quietly holds court, masterfully playing his piano and singing songs that have earned him nine Grammy awards over his lifetime. Although he still tours, Andrae Crouch's first responsibility these days, after the death of his parents and brother, is pastoring the church they founded, New Christ Memorial Church, along with his twin sister Sandra. I try to visit every so often and always leave inspired. Since I was a little boy holding his records and memorizing every lyric, his music has always had that effect on me.
I sat down with Crouch for an extended interview that will give his fans insights into Andrae Crouch the man and the legend. He shared with me the technique that his father taught him when he sang, which he believed made his music so universally loved. He also talked freely about the time he recorded vocals for Madonna's song "Like A Prayer," then refused to appear in the video because of its weird content.
But what has always been equally fascinating about Andrae is his simple yet vibrant faith in God. He always sings as though Jesus, a man who lived 2,000 years ago, is alive and well and is his best friend and seems utterly sincere and un-self-conscious about it. There is no separating Andrae from his God -- and everything he does is intertwined with his faith.
A few years back I had the chance to work with him -- producing a cover of the Gospel classic "Oh Happy Day" for a TV commercial. But there was one catch: they didn't want us to include the word "Jesus" in the song. Bewildered and not knowing how to handle such an odd request, I asked Andrae how we should respond. "Tell 'em we'll only say it four times," he said. And that's what we did.
Robert Johnson may have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent, but Andrae Crouch plays down his musical genius, recalling the time when, at the age of 14, he was given his first song at a backyard barbecue and remembering the time that God told him to always remember where his abilities came from.
The next time you're in LA., don't forget to pay a visit to one of the greatest living singer/songwriters of all time for a life-changing experience.
The full interview is posted here.