4 Times Late Gospel Legend Andrae Crouch Changed Pop

From back of the church pew all the way to Madonna.

January 09, 2015

Legendary gospel singer Andrae Crouch passed away last night at the age of 72 due to complications from a heart attack this past weekend. The seven-time Grammy-award-winning artist started singing at 14 years old in his hometown of San Francisco, California; Crouch's signature brand of contemporary gospel—marked by funk-infused rhythms and layered vocal harmonies—spread beyond the church pews and found its way to the sound stages of Hollywood. As the music industry's go-to guy for gospel, Crouch's body of work included contributing to soundtracks for The Lion King, The Color Purple, and oddly enough, Borat. He performed on the hallowed stages of The Johnny Carson Show and Saturday Night Live, and in 2003 he landed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one of only three stars bestowed to a gospel singer. In honor of Crouch's legacy, we've rounded up key moments when his gospel sound left an indelible mark on pop music.

1. Madonna, "Like A Prayer"

When Madonna needed rich vocals to take her sacred-meets-profane torch song "Like A Prayer" to another level, Crouch pulled together and conducted the backing choir.

2. Michael Jackson, "Man In The Mirror"

A long-time friend of Michael Jackson, Crouch frequently collaborated with the King Of Pop, arranging vocals for his Dangerous, Bad, and HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I albums and singing background on his 1987 mega-jam, "Man In The Mirror."

3. Elvis Presley, "I've Got Confidence"

Elvis Presley, the hip-swiveling "King of Rock n Roll," covered Crouch's uptempo gospel song "I've Got Confidence" on his 1972 contemporary gospel album, He Touched Me. The album earned Presley his second Grammy award.

4. Paul Simon, "Jesus Is The Answer"

On his 1974 album, Live Rhymin', Paul Simon, with additional vocals from the Jesse Dixon Singers, included a spirited rendition of Crouch's song "Jesus Is The Answer."

Lead image: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

4 Times Late Gospel Legend Andrae Crouch Changed Pop