Andraé Crouch, a gospel musician who bridged the worlds of church and mainstream music for more than 50 years, died Thursday afternoon. The 72-year-old singer, songwriter and choir director had been hospitalized since Saturday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in the Los Angeles area after suffering a heart attack.

Crouch, sometimes called “the father of modern gospel music,” led the choirs that sang on such hits as Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror and Madonna’s Like a Prayer. As a songwriter, he wrote several gospel favorites, most notably The Blood Will Never Lose Its PowerMy Tribute (To God Be the Glory) and Soon and Very Soon, a song sung at Jackson’s public memorial service.

A San Francisco native who grew up in the Church of God in Christ, Crouch wrote his first gospel tune at age 14. By 1960, he had formed the Church of God in Christ Singers, a group that featured Billy Preston on keyboards.

He started another group, Andraé Crouch & the Disciples, in 1965, eventually signing to a contemporary Christian label, Light Records. Crouch brought a contemporary pop and R&B melodic sensibility to gospel, making him uniquely suited to appeal to both black and white audiences during the early days of the countercultural “Jesus movement” and also bringing him attention beyond the church.

Elvis Presley recorded Crouch’s I’ve Got Confidence for his 1972 gospel album He Touched Me, and Paul Simon recorded his Jesus Is the Answer on 1974’s Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’. Crouch also became the go-to vocal arranger for Los Angeles recording sessions that needed a gospel sound, working not only with Jackson and Madonna but also Elton John, Quincy Jones, The Commodores, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr. read more here