By Dr. Valerie Wardlaw
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel
Andrew Gouché is all about the bass. He is the real deal – just ask any musician anywhere in the world. He is appropriately referred to as the Godfather of Gospel Bass; a world-renowned bassist whose skills have graced over 250 Gospel, Jazz and R&B albums.
His talents are many, Grammy® Award winning producer, musical director, composer, and the list of those he’s played with is endless, the late Rev. James Cleveland, the Hawkins Family, Andraé Crouch, the Winans, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Mississippi Mass Choir, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Gladys Knight, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Prince.
A self-taught artist, Gouché grew up surrounded by music in the church. His grandfather was a pastor, his mother sang in the choir and he literally honed his craft at the side of musicians who played for the ministry of Rev. Cleveland.
“I played the trumpet first, but I begged my mother to buy me a bass when I was 15-years-old after seeing Larry Graham (Graham Central Station) play on Soul Train,” recalled Gouché.
“I literally taught myself how to play bass at James Cleveland’s church and that’s why I always have to give him credit. I would sit on the side and try to figure out the bass lines and Rev. Cleveland allowed me to do that.”
Gouché began to play professionally at the age of sixteen. “I would go to churches and ask if they needed a bass player and the answer was usually no. Most churches at that time used the organ to play the bass line,” hence the title of his first solo project, ‘We Don’t Need No Bass.’
After 41 years of performing with others, Gouché decided it was time to showcase his musical gift. “I started writing songs for myself in 1999. People would ask me when was I going to record a solo project but as an artist and producer, I was still growing,” Gouché said.
“My album is coming out at the time when it’s supposed to come out. I can say that I have developed as a producer and as an arranger.”
For Gouché, an artist who is used to performing in the background, moving to center stage has been a process. “I had to learn to look at myself as a solo artist. I remember when I had my first solo performance and I thought, ‘Oh wow, someone has to talk’ and I remembered that it was me who had to talk.”
‘We Don’t Need No Bass’ was officially released on iTunes, on June 9. “I’m excited and I get butterflies when I think about my music. Where I am now is a road that I haven’t travelled down before.”
‘We Don’t Need No Bass’ has been a labor of love for Gouché and his wife Kelly, one of the producers on the album. “My wife has truly been amazing on this project. Without her, this album would still be a thought in my mind.”
“This album is my musical life,” Gouché said. “When I think about it, I remember the first gospel album I ever bought, Andraé Crouch, ‘Live in London.’ I would play it every day and read the credits and wonder what it would be like to meet these artists and to think that God has allowed me to play with them is truly surreal.
“I realized that it didn’t have to be me and I am eternally grateful to God. Music is like talking and this project is my heart speaking, and that’s what I hope listeners will experience.”
‘We Don’t Need No Bass’ is available on iTunes.com. Andrew Gouché will perform at the 2015 Long Beach Jazz Festival. For information, visit longbeachjazzfestival.com. Follow Andrew Gouché on Twitter @AndrewGouche and on Facebook.com/Andrew-Gouche.