Tag Archives: gospel music

Andrae Crouch: The COGIC Minister Who Bridged the Racial Gap in Gospel Music

Andree Crouch

David Mainse (right) welcomes guest Andrae Crouch (left) to the Assemblies of God television program, Turning Point, in 1977.

This Week in AG History — May 22, 1977

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 May 2018

Andrae Edward Crouch (1942-2015) was a gospel singer, composer, music producer, and pastor of New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Los Angeles. As an 11-year-old preacher’s son, Crouch’s father asked him, “Andrae, if the Lord gives you the gift of music, will you use it?” Young Andrae replied, “Yeah, Daddy. I’ll play for the Lord.”

That week Crouch’s mother bought him a cardboard keyboard to learn some fingering techniques. According to a 1977 interview published in the Pentecostal Evangel, two weeks later his father called him to the church piano and said, “If you’re going to play, then play!” The song the church was singing was What A Friend We Have in Jesus and Andrae begin to hit different notes until he found one that sounded right. He remembered, “In our churches they sing in any key, you know, and just take off without a songbook. And there was, oh, it was just really a touch of God, and I knew that He had a plan for my life.”

Andrae and his twin sister, Sandra, spent their childhood singing in their father’s church and in community choirs, including one led by gospel musician, James Cleveland. When they were 14 years old, Andrae and Sandra were invited to Cleveland’s home for a barbeque. Andrae recalled looking up to Cleveland and thinking, I wish I could write a song. Watching the adults pour the large vat of barbeque sauce over the ribs, it reminded Andrae of the blood of Jesus and he begin to sing, “The blood that Jesus shed for me way back on Calvary, the blood that gives me strength from day to day, it will never lose its power.” Sandra wrote the words down but Andrae wasn’t happy with it and threw it in the trash. Sandra said, “Andrae, that was a good song!” She dug it out of the trash can, and kept it.

In 1965, Crouch was attending the annual COGIC conference when the speaker asked, “Is there anyone here that wants to be used of God?” Crouch responded to the altar call and after the service several young men came up to him and said, “Hey, we’ve heard you play at your dad’s church. Would you come over and play for us at Teen Challenge?” Upon learning that Teen Challenge was a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, Crouch tried to put them off by saying, “Maybe I’ll come over sometime.” They responded with, “Come by tonight.” Andrae went with them but had no desire to work with them. Yet on the way home he kept hearing an addict’s choir singing in his head. After a long prayer session, Crouch felt God telling him to sell the car he loved, quit his job, and go to Teen Challenge to start a traveling choir of former drug addicts.

Alongside his work with the choir at Teen Challenge and at his father’s church, Crouch starting singing locally with a group of friends who called themselves “The Disciples.” In 1969, Ralph Carmichael, a Pentecostal record producer, heard them and invited them to a session to record an album, Take the Message Everywhere. Thirteen years after Sandra pulled Andrae’s first attempt at songwriting out of the trash can, listeners heard on the airwaves the song, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.

Crouch soon left Teen Challenge and began traveling full time in music ministry, including an early engagement with a traveling evangelist who took him on a world tour just a few short years after his first album, giving a wide audience to the musician and songwriter whose popularity was burgeoning. By 1973, Crouch had recorded a live album at Carnegie Hall and in 1975 appeared with Billy Graham at a televised crusade in New Mexico.

The impact of Andrae Crouch’s influence on contemporary Christian music in the 1970s and forward is impossible to quantify. For the first time, mainstream Christian radio stations were playing music performed by a black man for white audiences on a large scale. Crouch’s concerts drew both black and white audiences at a time when most concerts were segregated whether by intention or not.

Today Crouch’s songs, such as Bless the Lord, O My Soul; My Tribute (To God Be the Glory); and Through It All can be found in most contemporary hymnals. Few musicians can say they had both the respect of evangelist Billy Graham and the respect of pop-icon Michael Jackson, whose public memorial service included Crouch’s choir singing his song, Soon and Very Soon.

When he died in 2015, he had won eight Grammy awards and had an Oscar nomination for his music on the movie, The Color Purple. Despite the fame and fortune, Andrae Crouch remained in the COGIC ministry and, along with his sister, Sandra, served as co-pastor of the church his father founded in Los Angeles. Broadly speaking, Andrae Crouch was one of the most widely influential Pentecostal ministers of the 20th century.

Read more about David Mainse’s interview with Andrae Crouch for Turning Point TV program on page 20 of the May 22, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Just Waiting,” by Carolyn G. Tennant
• “Tooling Up for the Unfinished Task,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman
• “The Ex-Smuggler,” by Rachel Petersen, missionary to the Dominican Republic
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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R. Hilton Griswold, Longtime AG Minister and Gospel Musician, with the Lord at Age 93

Hilton Griswold playing the piano in the E. N. Bell Chapel at the dedication of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Hilton Griswold playing the piano in the E. N. Bell Chapel at the dedication of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

By Glenn Gohr

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center is saddened to announce the passing of a dear friend and saint of God. Rev. R. Hilton Griswold was born on November 12, 1921, and he passed away on May 5, 2015 in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 93.

Hilton Griswold passionately loved Gospel music. He is remembered for playing the piano and singing baritone for the Blackwood Brothers Quartet from 1940-1950. He was credentialed as an Assemblies of God minister on July 10, 1948, and pastored churches in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois.

Hilton has been a friend of the Heritage Center for many years. In addition to singing and playing in the Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center chapel on various occasions, he played gospel hymns and choruses for the opening of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and museum on January 19, 1999.

In recent years he ministered in nursing homes and senior adult gatherings. He also hosted his own program called “Inspiration Time,” which was released on television, radio and internet releases nationwide. He not only personally knew many of the gospel singing groups and composers, but he often knew the stories behind the songs, which he often shared on his weekly television programs.

For a wonderful example of Griswold’s inspirational music, watch this segment of him playing the piano, bass, and harmonica, and also singing 4 different parts for the song “We Shall Rise” as well as some other selections: https://vimeo.com/3599197

Additional selections of Griswold’s music are found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HiltonsFriends

Hilton Griswold was preceded in death by his wife, Marie, and his daughter, Barbara Chapman. He is survived by his son, Rev. Larry Griswold of Plainfield, Illinois and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He leaves a wonderful legacy of gospel music and singing which will continue to inspire future generations.


Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org


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Religious Life of Elvis

Dr. Jim Goff, a leading historian of Southern Gospel music and Southern culture, has authored an important addition to Elvis scholarship. The article, “Conflicted by the Spirit: The Religious Life of Elvis Presley,” is featured in the 2008 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. Goff’s sympathetic treatment of Elvis’ religious confliction portrayed a gifted individual with human frailties, with whom many readers will be able to identify.

Goff provided an overview of the subject and demonstrated his warm and engaging prose in the article’s introduction:

“In life and in death, Elvis Presley holds a fascination far beyond that of even the most successful singers and movie personalities. Worldwide, thirty years after his death, millions upon millions recognize him by his first name alone, the mention of which conjures up a surfeit of sight, sound, and memory. Less known is the real man, and especially the religious yearnings and conflicts that alternately soothed and convicted him. Ever enamored by gospel music, Presley was likewise influenced—and perhaps haunted—by the religious strictures of his youth. This early religious training was decidedly evangelical and Pentecostal in its orientation. Ultimately, it served as a religious umbrella under which the entertainer sought refuge in times of turmoil.”

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Don Baldwin (1931-2007) former manager of the Couriers, passes on

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SplashCast with Flickr photos
Produced by iFPHC

Don Baldwin, former Couriers Quartet founder and manager, died February 24, 2007 at his home in Florida. He was 75.

Donald Edward Baldwin was born Nov. 30, 1931 in Hamilton, Ohio, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois. While he was stationed in Las Vegas during the Korean War he developed an appreciation for gospel music. When he enrolled at Central Bible Institute in 1954, then, he parlayed this musical avocation into his vocation. That year, Baldwin rallied several fellow students to form a gospel group — The Couriers Quartet. The Couriers went on to be one of the most successful gospel music groups in the late twentieth century. Significantly, The Couriers helped to shift gospel music from an emphasis on entertainment back toward ministry and evangelism. Don Baldwin — and the other men of The Couriers — were Assemblies of God boys who proceeded to impact an entire generation for Christ.

After leaving the Couriers in 1965, Don established “Baldwin Sound Productions,” a recording studio facility and the home of Hymntone Records. Many of the major gospel groups recorded there over the years. During the 1970s, he also served as an emcee of the National Quartet Convention. In 2002, Don became one of the very first inductees into the Pennsylvania Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was awarded the “Living Legend” award by the Grand Old Gospel Reunion.

A memorial service for Don Baldwin is scheduled at 1:00 p.m. Friday, March 9, at Victory Church (Assembly of God), 1401 Griffin Road, Lakeland, Florida.

The Baldwin family authorized a memorial website, which includes articles and photographs.

The Couriers were featured in the cover story for the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. Read the article, written by leading gospel music historian Jim Goff, on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website.

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We discovered a new [old] hymnal!

Book Ad

Do you know the story behind the above hymnal, Glorious Gospel Hymns, published by Gospel Publishing House?

We at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center thought we had a complete collection of all Assemblies of God hymnals ever published, so when a donor gave us a copy of Glorious Gospel Hymns last year, we did a double take. Research into old issues of the Pentecostal Evangel yielded the above advertisement (published March 9, 1946, and Feb. 15 and Aug. 30, 1947), so it was likely published in 1946.

Since we had never seen Glorious Gospel Hymns, it must not have received wide circulation. The thick, 670-page hymnal contains The Apostles’ Creed, responsive readings, and other selections not found in the other gospel songbooks produced by GPH during that time period.

This edition of Glorious Gospel Hymns was compiled and edited by Haldor Lillenas, assisted by more than five hundred pastors, evangelists, and other church workers. According to the introduction, the book was prepared because of the “need among many denominations for a hymnal having a combination of the most famous and widely used hymns and the strongest and best loved gospel songs obtainable.” Haldor Lillenas produced a hymnal by the same title in 1931 for use by the Church of the Nazarene.

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The Couriers

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SplashCast with Flickr photos
Produced by iFPHC

The wait is over! The 2007 annual edition of Assemblies of God Heritage has been mailed to all Assemblies of God ministers plus subscribers. In the feature article, leading gospel music historian Jim Goff recounts the story of the Couriers – Assemblies of God boys who changed the world of gospel music by helping to shift its emphasis from entertainment toward ministry. Operating first as a quartet and later as a trio, the Couriers are celebrating five decades of music ministry as three of the long-time members, Dave, Duane, and Neil continue to travel and minister in song.

Also visit the eBay store of Mrs. Don Baldwin (Don Baldwin was a former Couriers member), featuring Couriers memorabilia for sale.

To view the photoset of the Couriers at Flickr click on the link below:
Flickr Photoset

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