Gospel Singer Andrae Crouch: 'Mighty Wind'

Andrae Crouch talks about his new CD Mighty Wind, which celebrates the gospel musician's four-decade career.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

Andrae Crouch helped create today's modern gospel sound. His new record, A Mighty Wind, celebrates the singer's four-decade career.

Crouch spoke earlier with NPR's Ed Gordon, and said that on this album, he reached back for that old-time gospel feeling.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: (Singing) And forget not his name. And forget not his (unintelligible).

Mr. ANDRAE CROUCH (Musician): That's sort of the way that I feel right now, because I think that because of a lot of the secular music - a lot of it, I feel, kind of frightens people, because of some of the artists and their lifestyles. And so I wanted people, when they heard the new music that I was presenting, I wanted it to make them feel safe.

And sort of putting in a little bit of old school in there instead of just doing everything in zoomsville. Just kind of make people come back home a little bit.

ED GORDON, host:

Andrae, you've been in the fore of gospel music for a long time, and in that, beyond just being in it for four decades now. And I suspect that must be, A, hard to believe, because we don't always see our time fly as we live it. But also I would think a testament to your love of music that you're still here and doing it after four decades.

Mr. CROUCH: You know, at first, when this record came out and they told me that they would like to celebrate 40 years, and I said, who would want to buy a record of a guy that's been playing music for 40 years? And then, I know that I heard the voice of God say, Andrae, boy, I kept you here, man. And you could be gone, but I've never failed you and I've always given you music. And so He's been faithful on his part. And I just wanted to, you know, keep up what He has given me. And I don't think that it will ever drain out of me. I think that the - as long as I want to do music, I think that God will continually pour it into me.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: (Singing) Don't forget, (unintelligible). Don't you forget, (unintelligible). Don't forget...

GORDON: You know what's interesting - I talked about you being in the forefront - you also did what we see so many, first and foremost, current-day Kirk Franklin, and that is really take a choir, attach your name to it, give it a sense of who you are, but not necessarily, quote, "feature yourself" out front all the time.

Mr. CROUCH: I started singing by default, I think. Because there was a guy in the group that thought the group wasn't going to ever be anything. And I was getting ready to record and I'd never recorded my voice. It was always other people that I featured, because I thought they did a much better job.

And so when he left, everything was in his key, and my voice was around his key, and so I would be teaching the group members - which, at that time, was Andrae Crouch and the Disciples - I would be teaching them the song and then telling them the way it should go and all this. And one of them said, Andrae, why don't you sing it? I said, no! And then, I tried it. It was only for them to learn the song, and then it ended up being my voice on that particular song. And people liked it, you know. And I would literally stick my fingers in my ears when I heard it. I said, ewww! That's ugly.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: (Singing) Holy is the lamb.

Mr. CROUCH: (Singing) Oh, I love you, I love you, I pray for you.

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: Holy is the lamb...

Mr. CROUCH: Just the way my voice sounds now, it's always had this little hoarse thing to it. And I'd have to do vocal exercises to make my voice clear. And so I'd always complain and ask God: God, why do I have this hoarse voice? And, you know. And then, the phone would ring and someone would say, hi, I just wanted to hear your voice. I'd go what? You know, and that's the way that it's been, you know. God can take anything we have, as long as we give him the glory for it. He can develop it and make it acceptable in music for the people.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

Mr. CROUCH: (Singing) He's holy! He's righteous!

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: Holy…

GORDON: I want to get your reflections on a friend of yours, someone, unfortunately, that we lost, and that is the great Billy Preston.

Mr. CROUCH: Oh, my! I think Billy, in my view, was the greatest organist I've ever heard. Billy was a genius in music. And the very first song that I wrote, he was there. And to have lost Billy, you know, it's really going to be an empty space in my heart. And he was never given due credit for who he really was.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CROUCH: (Singing) and I want to thank you Father, more than I can say. Every mountain I've had to climb on my own...

GORDON: It's interesting, Andrae, because you talked about God talking to you about still being here. And those aren't just idle words. I mean, you fought cancer.

Mr. CROUCH: Yes.

GORDON: You fought, as so many African-Americans do, present-day obesity. You've had a lot of hills to climb. Talk to me about how faith played a role in all of this.

Mr. CROUCH: Well, faith came by just believing God's word, and taking Him up on His word. And He said many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them from them all. And I was simple enough in my spirit to believe that. And I said, God, you know, I'm not going out that way. And I'm sure that you don't want me to go out that way. I've been serving you and I think that I have a lot more to offer you and offer the world; and will you please touch me? And he did every time.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: (Singing) Yea, (unintelligible) him, don't you be afraid to praise his name.

CHIDEYA: That was gospel music legend Andrae Crouch speaking with NPR's Ed Gordon.

Crouch's new 40th anniversary album is called, A Mighty Wind.

(Soundbite of music from album “Mighty Wind”)

ANDRAE CROUCH SINGERS: (Singing) Bow down before him, Jesus our savior. (Unintelligible).

CHIDEYA: That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us.

To listen to the show, visit npr.org. And if you'd like to comment, give us a call at 202-408-3330. That's 202-408-3330.

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