Home > CCM, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 85. Keep On Singin’ – Andrae Crouch & The Disciples

85. Keep On Singin’ – Andrae Crouch & The Disciples

KEEP ON SINGIN’ (1971)

Andrae Crouch & The Discples

In a time when this nation still was struggling with racial tension and understanding the various cultures the melting pot provides, a young black artist from San Fransisco seemed to create a colorblind response. Writing Gospel music starting at the age of 15, Andrae Crouch would go on to be the most recognized Gospel artist (white or black) to the mainstream audience during the 1970’s.

Crouch would appear on The Tonight Show and countless other mainstream television and radio programs and sold more albums than any “Jesus Music” artist at the time. The shocking part was just how many of those albums were bought by a white audience that not only broke the color barrier, but embraced the Gospel flavored soul and R&B that Crouch produced.

Over the years Crouch’s group, the Discples, would host legends in the Gospel music world as members including Sherman Andrus, twin-sister Sandra, Danniebelle Hall, Fletch Wiley, Bill Maxwell and Harlan Rogers. Crouch clearly influenced popular  CCM artists like The Imperials, Jon Gibson, Phillip Bailey and countless others.

His songs would appear on movie soundtracks and in hymnals. He penned several songs that are, indeed, classics and remain favorites today. At the age of 15 he wrote the first of those classic with “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” He initially threw the song away, thinking it wasn’t very good. His twin sister, Sandra, disagreed and retrieved the song from the trash and kept it from disappearing into history.

One individual that has not been mentioned much in this blog, but deserves an indeterminable amount of credit for birthing the CCM industry is Ralph Carmichael. The amazing conductor and songwriter formed Light Records and was an early pioneer in the mainstream Christian music world at introducing innovative and cutting edge artists when others were afraid to do so.  Light would eventually sign acts like Resurrection Band, Barnabas, Sweet Comfort and a host of others.

One of the early contemporary signings for Carmichael was a young Andrae crouch and his Disciples. They would release their debut album, “Take the Message Everywhere” in 1969. That album would feature “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” and would become a huge seller in both white and black communities.

The sophomore release, discussed here, would contain a host of classics and memorable songs. It would also take Gospel music farther than any release before its time outside of Edwin Hawkins. One song included on this album would become his trademark song and be included in many hymnals. His musical diversity would also set him apart with many Gospel infused styles represented.

A traditional, soulful “I Don’t Know why Jesus Loves Me,” starts the album with a very sing-a-long format. Much of what Crouch would write was to be used in corporate worship settings. technically, Crouch wrote “Church Music” for all kinds of churches.

“I’m Gonna Keep on Singing” has a very youth choir feel with the great brass section and orchestration supporting a multiple part harmony verse and chorus structure. The “Sing and Respond” chorus structure clearly influenced Larry Norman as the first listen bears out. The vamp at the end showed Crouch’s goal of racial harmony as he expresses lyrically the need for “everyone” (black or white) to hear the Gospel.

The ballad, “I’m Coming Home Dear Lord,” is a song of reconciliation. Crouch shows off his smooth voice here as well as allowing his backing crew a spotlight to shine.

The upbeat Gospel rocker, “Along Came Jesus” is one of those classics that has stood up well. The vamping and rocking combination of Gospel and R&B would later be employed by Jon Gibson and Bryan Duncan.

“Jesus” is just smooth and sweet. The light Gospel jazz infused ballad is the definition of a Baptist altar call song!

“Take a Little Time” features a great Ralph Carmichael brass section and huge chorus. the song builds and builds as it progresses. The song is an encouragement to remember to thank the Lord for all we have by discussing the story of the ten lepers in which only one returned to bless the Lord. Crouch talks about his own personal healiong in the lyric as well.

The late 1960’s vocal harmony sound dominates “Whatcha Gonna Do.” Nearly borrowing directly from the tight harmonies of California rock and folk artists like the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas, the song is far from the normal Gospel fair that one would expect from the artist.

The initial hit from the record was “I’ve Got Confidence.” The song would later be covered by many different artists in both black and white music circles including The imperials and Elvis Presley. Want to know exactly what a “hook” sounds like in a chorus, just listen to this classic.

But it would be the next song on the album that would define Crouch’s career and make him a superstar in Gospel circles. “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” ranks among that greatest songs in CCM history and would be included in the Top 10 in any such list. I wouldn’t even want to fathom a guess as to how many artists have covered this song and how many accompaniment tracks, copies of sheet music, songbooks and hymnals containing the song have been sold.
As a child in a Baptist Church I always assumed it was an “old” hymn written by the likes of Fanny Crosby and was shocked to learn it was a “current” song and was only a few years old. The amazing inspirational lyrics are matched only be the unforgettable melody and brilliant performance. The live performance recorded several years later is just plain spine tingling!

The album closes with the Country Gospel tinged “I Must Go Away.” Over the years white artist have liberally borrowed from the black community for musical inspiration and here Crouch returns the favor by taking a great Country feel and adding a distinctly black Gospel feel.

No artist in the history of CCM has truly broken the racial barrier like Andrae Crouch. Black artists have gained popularity within white consumer areas, but none have ever received the national response and acceptance as Crouch. His brilliant ability to walk the line while remaining authentic and real to his roots and musical heritage is quite amazing.

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  1. Don
    April 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Certainly Andre has his place in the top 100 – perhaps a few places. I really liked his “Just Andre” album, but am not familiar with the rest of his stuff – save the hits like My Tribute, and a few other songs.

    (Since you mentioned Ralph, I used to love Ralph Carmichael’s “My Little World” album – though I don’t expect it to show up on this top 500 list, nor should it. It combined the moog and Christianity which were both very new to me at the time)

    Any more Andre albums in the top 100?

  2. Don
    April 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    (Maybe the Carmichael album was called Electric Symphony – not sure now. Not that anyone cares, but at least I should try to be accurate)

  1. April 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm

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