Do you believe in miracles? Do you think God can perform inexplicable, supernatural feats in our modern era? How about an 11-year-old boy who can suddenly play the piano overnight? Impossible?
Grammy Award winning American Gospel singer Andraé Crouch spent over 40 years writing, recording and arranging music, yet never learned to read it, and played the piano at 11 without any lessons or practice.
Andraé was a singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor during the 1960s and 70s. He is referred to as "the father of modern Gospel music" by music professionals, for his talent at incorporating contemporary music styles into the church music he grew up with.
He was born in Compton, Los Angeles, along with his twin sister, Sandra, in 1942. His parents owned a dry cleaning business and a restaurant in L.A., but they also preached on the streets and visited hospitals and prisons to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection to save us from our sins.
According to his biography, Through It all, when Andraé was nine years old, his father was invited to preach at a little church in Val Verde, California. There was only five people in the service, but he got behind that pulpit and he preached like there were a thousand people out there.
"We had never heard our father preach before, but here he preached on salvation," Andraé remembered. "I went forward. I never experienced anything so great in my life. I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and my mother was right there with me. My father said, 'repeat the sinner's prayer'. I prayed it and I knew Jesus had come into my life."
The church did not have a pastor so they invited Andraé's father to become their pastor. It was there, two years later, that Andraé's miracle occurred.
"At the time, I was 11 and I stuttered really badly, I couldn't say one sentence," he wrote. "I could never testify to anybody about my conversion because I stuttered. I wanted so bad to talk properly. So as a way of escape I would always just listen to music - gospel music.
"When it came time for my father to preach that Sunday morning, he said, 'Andraé come up here.' And I thought, 'What does he want with me because he knows I can't talk?' He said to me, 'Andraé, if God gave you the gift of music to play and sing for Him would you do it for His glory all your life?' I said, 'Yeah Daddy.' My father laid his hands on my head and said, 'God if you want me to preach, I'll do anything you want me to do. If it's your will for me to preach and give up my business then enable this boy to play music.' I went back to my seat. The next day my mother went and got a cardboard keyboard. I thought, 'What is this?' But anyway, I got on it and pretended to play."
He continued, "So to make a long story short, my father called me up to the front the next Sunday. They had started singing a song called 'What A Friend We Have in Jesus' and he called me up while they were singing it and I go, 'What does he want now?' I knew he wasn't calling me up to play because I had never touched a real piano before.
"So I went up there and he said, 'If you're gonna play, play.' He pointed down at the sustain pedal and said, 'This holds your notes.' And I said, 'Okay'. And then my ears popped. I heard something go 'pop' and I found the tonic note, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.' I knew that was the key. It was the Holy Spirit. And I just started playing."
Although Andraé studied elementary education in college and worked as a counsellor for recovering drug abusers, he was driven towards a music career.
him bestHe formed his first serious Gospel group during the early 1960s, Andraé Crouch and the Disciples. In 1977, the group released their first album, This is Another Day. Eventually the 'Disciples' name was dropped, as the albums were credited solely to Andraé.
His career quickly began to soar as he continued to release albums. His most well-known songs include the modern Gospel classics, "My Tribute (To God be the Glory)" and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power". In addition, Andraé, toured extensively and collaborated with pop artists such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. He received nine Grammy awards and an Academy Award nomination.
After his father's death, Andraé and Sandra spent a lot of time pastoring the church that their father pioneered. Even so, he was still in demand for his music.
"I give all the glory to God because it's amazing!" Andraé said at the time. "Probably three-fourths of the songs [on my latest album] have come to me when I'm standing in the pulpit in the middle of a sermon - bam! Like a laser beam. And out of all the millions of people in this world, God gives ME a song."
In early December 2014, Andraé was hospitalized for pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
A month later, he died in hospital of a heart attack at the age of 72.
His sister released the following statement, "Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."•