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Andraé Crouch (Getty Images photo)
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
A God-praising, hand-clapping, Christ-adoring service transformed the Staples Center into a house of worship during the How Sweet the Sound (HSTS) National Finale, held for the first time in Los Angeles on October 28.
More than 10,000 people came out to witness nine choirs from across the country vie for the title of ‘America's Church Choir.' Earning that honor was the Salvation and Deliverance Church Choir of Tarboro, North Carolina. The sanctuary choir of the Family Life Center Apostolic Church in Whittier won the People's Choice Award.
Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton highlighted the event by performing a song from their upcoming film, ‘Joyful Noise.' The movie will be in theaters in January 2012.
Also, renowned gospel trailblazer Andraé Crouch received the first-ever Living Legend Award.
"I'm truly grateful for how good God has been to me," said Crouch as he accepted the award from recording artists Chaka Khan and Kurt Carr along with HSTS co-hosts and judges CeCe Winans, Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Shirley Caesar and Israel Houghton.
"So many people are celebrated when they've passed on, I'm just glad I'm still here. I'd rather be a living legend than a dead legend," he remarked with a smile.
A prolific writer, musician, and arranger, Crouch has composed over 1700 songs resulting in eight Grammy awards, six Dove Awards and an Oscar nomination as well as many other honors.
"God has given me so many songs, so many producers, so many musicians. It's the Lord's doing and it's marvelous in our eyes," he said.
Crouch also shared that he initially discarded what was to become one of his most recorded works and a standard among church choirs around the world.
"When I wrote my first song, I threw the paper away in the trash. My twin, Sandra, said, ‘Andraé, that's a good song,' and grabbed it out of the can," recalled Crouch. That song was ‘The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.' Other popular hits by Crouch are ‘Through It All,' ‘Soon and Very Soon,' ‘Bless His Holy Name,' and ‘My Tribute.'
This year, he released his new CD, ‘The Journey,' that features 15 new songs. In addition, Crouch and his sister continue to serve as pastors of Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima.