Calling him a “musical prophet”, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer officiated at the homegoing service for gospel singer Andrae Crouch on Wednesday. Numerous pastors, gospel artists, and others in the music industry were on hand to celebrate and remember the life of “the father of modern gospel music.”
Recalling one of Crouch’s famous songs, “My Tribute”, Ulmer said Andrae Crouch’s humility was “a lesson for artists today.”
South African pastor Clyde Ramalaine declared that Andrae “enters the grave empty because he gave everything that he could.” Recalling how the singer influenced his life as a young man, Ramalaine said, “There was no protocol around Andrae. He would talk with anybody anywhere… This one was not a star. Stars fade. Andrae was an evangelist. He was not concerned about fame and fortune.”
Stevie Wonder told the audience at West Angeles COGIC that Andrae “blessed me as a friend. I thank God for him.” He, Yolanda Adams, and Kristle Murden sang “I’ll be Thinking of You.” Later in the program, Wonder referred to current events and said he believed President Obama truly wanted to see people come together but added that, in his opinion, too many people disliked him “because of the color of his skin.” Referring to the recent terror attacks in Paris, France, he said that he believed in freedom of religion and “just because we disagree with someone, we don’t have the right to kill them.” He went on to sing Andrae Crouch’s song “Soon and Very Soon” and his own song “Love’s In Need Of Love Today.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson also spoke briefly. He remembered Crouch as one who “fought not just to change people, but to change our society.” He said Andrae was “a historic figure who eclipsed his time.” Jackson recalled how that the last time he visited Nelson Mandela, the late South African anti-apartheid leader was listening to one of Crouch’s songs, “I’ll Be Thinking of You.” Jackson also comforted Andrae’s sister Sandra with the knowledge that Andrae Crouch was “across the river” in Heaven.
Edwin Hawkins and Lynette Hawkins recalled Andrae Crouch as a true “minister.” Edwin said that before and after taking the stage Crouch ministered to people and helped lead them to God.
Bobby Jones said that he was inspired by Andrae Crouch and the Hawkins family to begin his career in Gospel music. He was followed by Gospel artist and worship leader, Kurt Carr, who recalled how he first met Andrae Crouch, toured with him and his sister, Sandra, and said the Grammy-winning songwriter was simply a “genius.”
Some figures who were unable to attend the homegoing service in person sent video messages that were played on screens in the auditorium. Among them were Bishop Charles Blake, the pastor of West Angeles COGIC where the service was being held. He said that his parents were friends with the Crouches’ parents, and said, “Few have made such a great contribution to the body of Christ as Andrae Crouch.”
Bill and Gloria Gaither said Andrae Crouch “brought the white and the black church together, the young and old… the charismatic and the non-charismatic… He was truly an original.”
In his video message, Michael W. Smith said the music “landscape that we have now would look completely different if it hadn’t been for Andrae and the Disciples.”
Calling Crouch an “encouragement”, singer Rance Allen said Crouch was one of his “greatest heroes” and said he “will never be forgotten and his music will last forever.”
The last video message played was from T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House in Dallas. He called Crouch “an angel to the church of God” and said he was “a man in a class all by himself.” Jakes said Crouch was gone but would never be forgotten.
Gospel artist, Kirk Franklin, said he was surprised to find out that many of the songs he grew up singing in church were actually written by Andrae Crouch.
Many speakers remembered Andrae Crouch as an evangelist and soulwinner saying that he would not hesitate to talk to anyone about their need for Jesus Christ. Donnie McClurkin said, “We need to bring evangelism back to our ministries.”
Sandra Crouch talked about how her twin brother loved the musicians and singers he worked with. She said that when Andrae collapsed, she did CPR to revive him before he was taken to the hospital. Four days later, he died. She prayed for a miracle, but “the miracle was that God gave me four days to get ready.” She added, “I’m a fighter. There’s no doom and gloom in the Crouches… I don’t feel like I don’t have my brother. He’s still here; he’s still with me.” She encouraged the audience by saying, “If you feel like God doesn’t love you, that’s not true. If you feel like God doesn’t have a purpose for your life, that’s not true.” She said it had been “an honor” to serve her brother for so many years.
Marvin Winans, who was scheduled to give the eulogy, simply spoke for a few minutes about how he and his family were influenced by Andrae Crouch. Since the service had already run for more than four hours, Winans did not share his planned message, but said that since soulwinning was Andrae Crouch’s life’s work, he didn’t want the service to close without giving everyone the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. He then led the audience in a prayer of salvation.
Several artists sang Andrae Crouch’s songs and other songs throughout the service. Israel Houghton and Jonathan Butler sang “Through it All,” followed by Ledisi who sang “Tell Them.” Shirley Caesar sang “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus.” CeCe Winans sang “We Are Not Ashamed.” Tata Vega sang “Oh, it Was Jesus” and “Speak, Lord.” Donnie McClurkin sang “It Won’t Be Long.” And Marvin Winans led the audience in singing “Let the Church Say Amen.”