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Sandra Crouch, prolific gospel lyricist, passes away at age 81


Sister of Andrae Crouch

Sandra Crouch, the twin sister and collaborator of gospel music legend Andraé Crouch, has died after battling a noncancerous lesion in her brain. She was 81.

Crouch will be honored with a musical tribute and funeral at New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando set for April 16–17. , according to an announcement.

Though her brother’s name is more widely known, Crouch was influential in both ministry and music—within and beyond the gospel genre.

She co-wrote “Jesus Is the Answer” with her brother—a 1970s hit on both Black gospel and White gospel radio stations. In the 1980s, she composed, produced, and sang the lead on “We Sing Praises,” for which she won a Grammy in 1984 for best soul gospel performance by a female, helping keep Light Records out of  bankruptcy.

The label has continued to feature many other gospel acts, including The Winans, Walter Hawkins and the Hawkins Family, and Commissioned, as noted by jazz and folk singer-songwriter Dara Starr Tucker in a social media post paying tribute to Sandra Crouch.

If you grew up with gospel music in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, then this label itself is iconic for you,” said Tucker, who added that Crouch also played tambourine on hits of the Jackson 5. “For those reasons and so many more Sandra Crouch was a tremendously  influential figure in the world of gospel music.”

At the time of her death, Crouch was senior pastor of New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando after her twin brother took the controversial step in 1998 of ordaining her as co-pastor of the Pentecostal church started by their parents decades earlier.

“I believe that when you have a sense within yourself that God is calling you to work in a particular part of the ministry, that no matter what gender you are, you should be able to answer that call,” Sandra Crouch said in an interview with Religion News Service shortly after her ordination. “You don’t get a driver’s license to learn how to drive. You get a license because you know how to drive.”

Andre Crouch pointed to the collaboration of his parents, Bishop Benjamin J. and Catherine D. Crouch, as inspiration for his move to ordain his sister into the ministry..

“He would always say until probably a month before he died, ‘I don’t want you ever to talk about me and what I’ve done without giving the same credit to my wife,’” Andraé Crouch recalled of his father in 1998. “That’s the same way I’ve been with my sister. That’s why I made her my co-pastor.”

Sandra Crouch performed with her twin in gatherings that ranged from a meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals to the Billy Graham Crusade.

She also joined her sibling in working with notable artists outside gospel, such as co-writing songs and performing percussion on the 1986 soundtrack for Quincy Jones’ production of “The Color Purple.”

On her own, Crouch worked as a percussionist, playing on such recordings as “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond and “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. Crouching also coordinated choirs for Grammy production numbers such as Michael Jackson’s performances of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “The Man in the Mirror” at the 1988 telecast.