One of the most renowned and widely respected pioneers of contemporary gospel music remains Andrae Crouch. By combining such classic gospel music elements as call-and-response and choir, along with pop songwriting techniques and production, Crouch's style has influenced countless other artists. Born July 1, 1942, in Pacoima, CA, Crouch got his musical start at his father's church, singing, playing piano, and before ten years of age, writing his own songs (despite being entirely self-taught). Crouch formed his first serious gospel group during the early '60s, Andrae Crouch & the Disciples, although it wouldn't be until 1977 that the group issued their first release, This Is Another Day (eventually, the "Disciples" name would be dropped, as the albums were credited solely to Crouch).
Crouch's career quickly began to soar, as he kept steadily issuing albums (including such standout releases as 1978's self-titled release, 1981's Don't Give Up, 1982's Live at Carnegie Hall, 1997's Pray, and 1998's Gift of Christmas), as well as penning such renowned gospel tunes as "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power." In addition, Crouch toured across the globe (including Europe, Africa, the Far East, and the U.S.); collaborated with such acclaimed pop artists as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and Madonna; received a total of nine Grammy Awards and an Academy Award nomination; and provided film scores to such movies as The Lion King and Free Willy.
Crouch was inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he was the subject of a tribute album, Tribute: The Songs of Andrae Crouch, which included spirited renditions of Crouch tunes done by the likes of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Take 6, the Winans, and an album-closing finale of "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" that included Patti Austin, BeBe Winans, Susan Ashton, and Vestal Goodman among others, as part of a 70-voice all-star choir. Along with numerous guest appearances and a hectic touring schedule, Crouch released Take the Message Everywhere in 2005.