No Christian musician ever influenced me as much as Andrae Crouch did. In fact, I modeled my own “music ministry” after his.
Of course, I stunk as a singer and musician, and my attempt to become a contemporary Christian artist ended the day a friend told me, “Jim, your singing is hoarse and out of key, but at least you sing with feeling.”
Oh well. It was painful, but I got the message.
Although I quit singing much in public after that, in my private devotions I always aspired to be more like Andrae Crouch. He sang with feeling too, and I could relate.
I was privileged to see Andrae in concert on numerous occasions. The first time was at an outdoor concert, where I chatted briefly with him as he walked through the crowd and listened to the other groups on the stage before him. Although his group, Andrae Crouch and the Disciples, was the headliner of the day, he was just an approachable, humble brother in the Lord behind the scenes.
But I was the most impacted by a concert in Dayton, Ohio. Andrae’s group was the final act, and I remember sitting through some incredibly boring Southern Gospel groups who came on first.
When the moment finally came for Andrae to take the stage, he was introduced by a rather obnoxious local DJ. For what seemed like an eternity, the DJ went on and on about how great Andrae was, citing all the awards he had already won and all the #1 songs he had written.
The DJ’s introduction was over-the-top, nauseating HYPE, pure and simple. He seemed to be preparing the crowd for Andrae Crouch to suddenly descend from heaven in a cloud of smoke or walk on water as he took the stage. I couldn’t help wondering how Andrae was going to begin his concert after such an uproarious introduction.
The DJ eventually ran out of accolades and declared loudly, “HERE HE IS, GRAMMY AND DOVE AWARD-WINNER, ANDRAE CROUCH!!!”
Despite the hype that preceded him, Andrae took the stage without saying a word. He didn’t greet the audience or even look our way. Nor did he start his concert with a rousing song to match the hype of the DJ’s introduction.
Instead, Andrae quietly sat down on his piano bench, looked toward heaven, and began singing one of my favorite songs: “Thank You, Lord. I just want to thank You, I just want to thank You…for all you’ve done for me.”
The scene still brings tears to my eyes today. Many of us would have fallen into the trap of believing the hype and accepting the accolades for ourselves. But not Andrae Crouch.
Even at the height of his popularity and acclaim, Andrae was careful to lay down his crowns and trophies at the feet of Jesus. You see, that’s what we’ll all do in eternity, but Andrae was wise and humble enough to get a head start on glorifying God while he was still alive.
Today Andrae Crouch is no doubt singing in a much more anointed group than he ever experienced on earth. Casting down their crowns before the Lord’s throne, I’m sure they are singing passionately:
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11)
Thank You, Lord, for Andrae Crouch. To You be the glory for a life so well spent.