- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Andrae Crouch was remembered at his funeral in Los Angeles for his dedication to spreading gospel music around the world.

The Grammy-winning gospel performer, songwriter and choir director was honored Wednesday during a service at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. There were performances and appearances by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, Ledisi and many gospel luminaries.

“Andrae is the father of modern gospel,” said Jackson. “We cannot forget how hard he fought, not just to change people, but to change our society. Andrae is not just a local or national gospel singer. He is an international transformer, a historic figure that eclipsed his time and changed the course.”

Several attendees performed renditions of Crouch’s songs, backed by a band and 80-person choir. Wonder remembered first working with Crouch when he was asked to join in on the tune “I’ll Be Thinking of You,” which Wonder performed during Wednesday’s service.

“I was in the studio and someone said, ‘Andrae Crouch wants you to play harmonica on this song,’” Wonder recalled before playing. “I said I’ve always wanted to play harmonica for him on a song, so it’s truly an honor to be able to do this song again and celebrate his life. He blessed me as a friend.”

Other guests included Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar and BeBe, CeCe and Marvin Winans, who performed the eulogy.

“I thought these were just hymn songs,” Franklin said of Crouch’s deep discography. “I had no idea of the impact of this guy that was packing out Carnegie Hall, big arenas in London, tours and all of this big stuff.”

Crouch and his twin sister, Sandra Crouch, were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in the Los Angeles suburb of San Fernando. An emotional Sandra recalled her brother’s final days to the crowd gathered for the four-and-a-half-hour-long service.

“I tried to keep my twin here, but God said, ‘He’s suffered enough, and I want him home with me.’”

Sandra later lifted the mood by jokingly reminding everyone that her twin was born 30 minutes before her and was therefore her “opening act.”

Crouch was awarded seven Grammys throughout a career that spanned more than a half-century. His work graced songs by Michael Jackson and Madonna and movies such as “The Color Purple” and “The Lion King.”

Crouch died Jan. 8 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he had been admitted after suffering a heart attack, according to his spokesman. He was 72.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.

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