By PC Muñoz
I’d been a fan of gospel legend Andraé Crouch (who passed in 2015) for years before I met him. As a kid I heard his contemporary-sounding songs on the Sunday morning gospel program on KSOL, a Bay Area soul station. Later, as a gospel drummer in the 90s, I played his songs with a choir.
In January ‘03 or ‘04 I was at the NAMM show (a music industry trade show) with my friends from Little Kids Rock. I had already met Stevie Wonder, Bootsy, and Maurice White on that trip. I wasn’t expecting to encounter another legend, let alone have a mind-boggling exchange with him.
I saw Mr. Crouch near the Yamaha piano exhibit and introduced myself; we chatted a bit. He was friendly, with a piercing intelligence and intensity. He listened closely when I was speaking and suddenly turned to me and said “Your voice. You either use it professionally or you should. You’re a...poet? A rapper?”
Stunned, I told him I do use my voice professionally in the music that I make, in poetry and spoken-word, and as an educator.
Assured, he nodded and tilted his ear towards me as I replied. Then he said “You’re also Asian, Native American...something like that, though you don’t look it.”
Not sure if my jaw actually dropped but I’m sure my body performed some sort of involuntary demonstration of flabbergast. I am a multiracial person with indigenous, Asian-Pacific Islander roots from my father’s side, but mostly (and understandably), I present to people as Latino or just ethnically ambiguous. To have someone —let alone this musical giant— identify my occupation and family background via the sound of my voice was, to say the least, a trip. I looked at him and told him he was correct, again. He sighed and said, “Yeahhh, I hear it. I hear it all in the voice.”
He gave me his address on the reverse side of a postcard with his headshot on it (pictured) and told me to keep in touch. I think I sent him a CD a few weeks later. I never heard back, which was kind of a relief: I wasn’t sure if I was ready for whatever else Andraé Crouch the seer was going to tell me about myself, my life, my future.
Sometimes, meeting your heroes far exceeds expectations.