Jetro Da Silva is an artist, educator, producer, and researcher. Da Silva’s experience, training as a keyboardist, producer, and arranger has increased his opportunities to work with people such as: Whitney Houston, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Pastor Andraé Crouch, Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, the Pointer Sisters, Gladys Knight, Brandy, Sheila E., Namie Amuro, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Kem, Celine Dion, Patti Austin, Emilio Santiago, Monica, Mary Mary, and many others.
Earlier this month, Grammy-winning gospel pioneer Andraé Crouch passed away. Crouch received an honorary doctorate from Berklee and collaborated with the likes of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, and Madonna to name a few, and is responsible for the recording career of Walter Hawkins and the Winans. Here, Berklee professor Jetro Da Silva shares his thoughts and memories on his friend and mentor.
I first met pastor Andraé Crouch back around 1994/1995 when I first attended the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as a featured artist for Technics music instruments, supervised by Dan Slick, director of marketing for the company. Someone very dear to me whom I met while still a Berklee student offered me this opportunity. Those days, I was the music and choir director for the Roxbury Presbyterian Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Here is what is ironic: my intention was to take this opportunity to go to California and visit Pastor Crouch’s church and invite him to do a concert at Roxbury Presbyterian Church. While at the NAMM show, I was playing the Technics keyboards and learning the technology with people like Brian Alli and Christopher Halon who are now very important folks at Roland. In one of my breaks, I decided to take a walk and call Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ to find out the time of their services on Sunday. “Pastor Crouch is at the NAMM show with his sister Sandra Crouch,” they said.
“Really?” I asked.
“He will be at the Hilton Hotel attending a worship service and Quincy Jones will also be there,” they told me.
To make a long story short, I went to the hotel, met him, and managed to take him back to the Technics booth, which made Dan Slick happy. While at the booth, I started playing the piano and he asked me if I knew any of his songs. “Yes, sir!” I answered, and started playing lots of the songs that I grew up listening to as a teen and singing with a Christian group I used to be a member of called Banda fé, led by Silas Lima Pereira, who was himself a big fan of Crouch’s music. He was impressed with my playing and invited us to go to his church the next day.
This interaction led to his invitation to move to Los Angeles and the experience that followed was so important to me that I hope to write a book about it someday. While in my early days in Los Angeles, I was solely focused on songwriting, completing probably 40 to 50 songs while living under the roof of the apartment the church had above the pastor’s office. One of the many songs we wrote together was, “He Does All Things Well.” It came about one afternoon while Andraé was in the church office with pastor Sandra Crouch. I was upstairs writing tracks, but this track felt different. It came quick and I felt that it was from Heaven. I put it on cassette and rushed over to tell Andraé, “I wrote a track and really want to show you.” When he heard it, he immediately told me that this song would be number two on his new record, and that he had to call the producer. At that moment, I didn’t understand what he meant. It turned out that Andraé loved the song so much that he decided to sing the lead on it, and later, the producer shared with me that when Qwest Records (started by Quincy Jones) heard the song they said, “This is the direction you all should take this album,” and I was very honored to hear this. Years later, I was attending one of gospel singer James Cleveland’s conventions and I met Bishop Walter Hawkins. When I shared with him the song that I had written with Pastor Andraé Crouch, he said, “That is my favorite one on that album.”
Today, I say my good bye to my brother in Christ, friend, and mentor Andraé Crouch with much gratitude for all that you showed me musically on the piano and organ, and for trusting me and calling me a genius when I really needed to hear it. Your legacy will remain forever. God has blessed you with so much and you have blessed so many. May you rest in peace and may The Lord’s name be glorified with your musical legacy and may those who listen to your music and lyrics be edified. To God be the glory for the things He has done.
Here is the song we wrote, “He Does All Things Well”:
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