May 29, 2005. It all started
There’s a small cafe in a suburb of Tokyo called KICK BACK CAFE where you can relax with some good food, and if you hang around long enough, who knows who might just stop by.
Marehisa Ishii, better known as Marre, owns this popular eatery which also houses the church he pastors, Committed Japan. It is out of this church that he formed the band HEAVENESE with his wife Kumiko.
With all those irons in the fire, you might say that he is one busy man who is ready to take on just about anything.
In mid May, 2005, Marre was having a usual day in his world when he received an unusual phone call.
His friend and producer back in the States excitedly told him, “I’ve got some big news. Andrae Crouch is coming to attend your Sunday Worship service.”
Not knowing the significance of this, Marre nonchalantly replied, “Really. Okay.”
Marre’s friend continued, “I told Andrae about KICK BACK CAFE and Committed Japan, and he wants to check it out. I bet you and Andrae will hit it off.”
Now Marre, being a musician, has always been into music and was really into KISS and David Bowie at that time.
He was much more of a rocker at heart and not so up on the genre of Contemporary Gospel to say even less about who Andrae Crouch was. So not knowing what all the fuss was about, Marre said, "O.K. looking forward to having him”.
Marre relayed this conversation to his wife, Kumiko, who was equally unmoved by the news as Marre. Now Kumiko, who lived in the LA area since high school, had spent 10 years surrounded by African Americans. They were her friends. She did hiphop and went to church with them. In spite of this background, the name “Andrae Crouch” didn't ring a bell.
The truth of the matter is that unbeknownst to them, Marre and Kumiko were in fact familiar with Andrae’s songs. Right after Marre’s faith in God began, American missionary who knew he was a musician, gave him cassette tapes with hit songs from contemporary Christian music. Among those songs, were some Andrae’s songs such as “Take Me Back”, “My Tribute”, and “Soon and Very Soon”. Marre listened to these tapes so much that he wore them out.
It turns out that Kumiko had also been exposed to Andrae’s music at her church in the States. Virtually every week, they were singing “The Blood Will Never Loose Its Power” and other songs he had written.
As that fateful day was approaching, Marre checked the internet to see who Andrae Crouch was. He was in for a bit of a surprise to say the least. He shared his findings with Kumiko and said, “Here’s something, Andrae sings that song. we know, “My Tribute”, he wrote that song." This song was especially dear to Marre and Kumiko as they had translated it into Japanese and had sung many times at their worship services and at Kumiko's father's funeral. Now, Andrae Crouch, the songwriter was coming. Yes he was coming.
Finally, May 29, 2005 rolled around.
That morning, for the first time, they met Andrae and thus started a relationship from which nobody knew what would take place afterwards.
To be continued…