American artist Kirk Franklin recently opened up about the pitfalls of the gospel music industry in an article on the Patheos website honouring the late gospel musician and pastor Andrae Crouch.
Franklin, who popularised the songs "I Smile" and "Every Day With Jesus", revered Crouch as "the greatest songwriter in the history of gospel music." The legendary songwriter, 72, died on January 8 after suffering a heart attack.
He compared the music made during Crouch's time and now, and lamented that the musical impact differs greatly because people's priorities are now apparently mixed with their own personal agenda. Instead of worshipping and honouring God, he feels artists focus too much on record sales and worldwide recognition.
"Our music doesn't affect people the way it used to. It doesn't create movements like it did during Andrae's time," Franklin wrote. "Is it because today's worship leader is too busy trying to get the record deal, the applause, a higher church salary, and that crossover song? (The guilt is all over my hands, people!)"
"Every step we take away from the cross — and the cross alone – every time we focus on sales over souls... the goal gets lower and lower," he added.
Franklin has special memories of Crouch. As a youngster, he first heard of the songwriter only after someone said that he might just become "the next Andrae Crouch" because of his talent.
"Even though I was a young musician who got his chops growing up in the black church, I was influenced by hip hop, and R&B. But little did I know that the name Andrae Crouch was as big as many other names in popular music, and his influence was felt all of ever the globe," noted Franklin. "His pen became the sword that erased racial and cultural barriers within the birth of the JESUS MOVEMENT in the 70's. No matter your color or denomination, the soundtrack of your church life was Andrae Crouch."
Crouch, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, was the genius behind gospel hits like "Jesus Music" and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power." He also directed the choir featured in Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer."