One of the indisputable gatekeepers of Gospel music is the perennial favorite, pastor, on-air personality and veteran performer, DonnieMcClurkin. Ever since his artistic debut amidst Detroit royalty like The Winans, DonnieMcClurkin has evolved into a singular brand that represents the bedrock of Black Gospel music.
Donnie‘s signature songs like Stand, Speak To My Heart and Holy are now holy hymns and sacred psalms for the modern era. Donnie‘s delivered enduring classics that are now part of contemporary Christian culture. Yet today, McClurkin appears to take greater pride in his successful syndicated radio show and his flourishing Freeport-based church ministry. With that startling reality, along with rumors of a budding relationship and a chart-topping project on the market, BlackGospel.com was in pursuit of the truth from the man who’s on an interesting journey these days.
Christopher Heron: Why was “Journey” the appropriate title for your latest album?
DonnieMcClurkin: It’s about the musical journey that we’ve been on for almost 20 years. It was also a final release for RCA Inspiration. Content of the live recording was from a Detroit live recording and from a recording at our church in New York. We put it together as a final contractual obligation to RCA Inspiration.
Christopher Heron: Do you intend to explore other opportunities in terms of labels?
DonnieMcClurkin: I don’t have any specific plans. I’ve got my own record label called Camdon Music, but I have no plans. I’m sure I’ll record something later but that was just to end the relationship with RCA Inspiration and that’s why it’s not being promoted because it’s the final project. The contract is over.
Christopher Heron: You’re appearing at selected dates during the Festival of Praise.
DonnieMcClurkin: I’ve done Festival of Praise for Fred Hammond for several series and it was wonderful. The first year was just Fred and me, and then last year we brought in other artists, but this year Fred had something totally different in mind. My thing is I know I’m old; I don’t have that stamina.
This year they asked me to come and do a couple of dates, and I said yes for three, so I’m only going to do three because it’s time to focus on the rest of my life. The contract with RCA is over, the touring is at a minimum, it’s time for me to pour my attention into the pastoring of Perfecting Faith Church where I’ve been pastoring for over six years. The radio show I’ve hosted for 10 years is also a global triumph for me.
Christopher Heron: Speaking of your syndicated radio show, I’m sure it’s been an interesting venture and ministry for you. How do you measure the importance of your radio ministry?
DonnieMcClurkin: When BeBe Winans told me about 11 years ago, ‘’Donnie, you need to do radio.’’ I listened because BeBe had a radio show. He always talked to me about doing radio. The following year, BeBe put in a word for me with the executive producers, saying that Donnie needs a show. BeBe is key to a lot of successful lives. BeBe was and still is so selfless, when it comes to things that he knows God has ordained. That’s how I started. We put together the first show with Shirley Caesar over 10 years ago.
It’s clear to me that radio is still the main format for listening to music, whether your Christian or secular. Radio is free, radio is 24/7 and it goes wherever you go. I saw the impact of radio, from when we started to the point where we’re in 87 markets in America today. We’re also in Kingston, Jamaica, the Bahamas, London, and we just got picked up in Nigeria. It’s become this global thing that I never knew had that much power.
Christopher Heron: From your perspective as a veteran radio host, what’s key to being a successful on-air personality? Is it the voice, is it the music content, is it the rapport with your audience?
DonnieMcClurkin: It’s all that you just listed. It’s the voice, it’s the content, it’s the rapport, but it’s also having that connection with God. You as a radio personality would realize that when you go on the radio, Chris, we’re ministering to more people than most pastors do on a Sunday morning. We’re ministering to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people on the radio and on the internet. We’ve got to take that into consideration. They’re listening to hear something inspirational, they’re listening to bring them into the presence of the Lord.
They want to be encouraged, they want to clap, sing, and express the joy they’re feeling. They’re listening to the radio waiting for us to bring them what God has ordained. So that’s the key to being a successful radio personality. He or she must realize that they’re ministering to multitudes, and it’s not about sitting in front of a microphone. It’s about people’s hearts, hands, and lives hanging on that show, they need something from it, and we give it to them by the grace of God.
Christopher Heron: You evolved into a marvelous radio host, but your brand and appeal is definitely linked to your calling as a psalmist. Just the other day, Tamela Mann told me you are one of her favorite vocalists. Do you understand and recognize the impact of your music ministry?
DonnieMcClurkin: I can’t lie. No, I don’t realize the impact because I’m so busy doing. I don’t think anybody could ever realize their impact. And I think God purposely does not allow to be aware so that our ego doesn’t become too big. Only God knows the impact of the vessel He’s using. God doesn’t want us to know because it would take the glory away from Him.
And so I pride myself in that ignorance, that I’m not aware of how many lives I’ve impacted. I leave that between God and them. I hide behind the cross. I let God get all of the glory because it’s His. I’m just a vessel, and if I should fail he will call another to finish the assignment. It should never be about me. It’s about obeying God, then going back to my corner and saying, ‘’Now Lord, talk to me and tell me what else to do.’’
Christopher Heron: You mentioned you’re closing your season with RCA Inspiration, you’re keeping your tours to a minimum. Are you making room for a new person and a new chapter in your life?
DonnieMcClurkin: Yes, most definitely. It’s in this age and stage, and I’m behind time for caring for Donnie. I’ve spent a lot of time doing the work for the Kingdom and being that person, but now God has given me freedom to focus on what makes me happy for the rest of my life. So now He’s coordinating things. A lot of things are being said before its time, but the reality is you’re on the right track, you’re correct in every sense of it.
Now it’s the time for God to lead me into the path that will bring me into the fullness of living. We’re supposed to have abundant and eternal life in Heaven. We’re usually looking for the eternal life in Heaven, but we live such conflicted lives on Earth, but God wants us to have an abundant life while we’re on this Earth. God says so that your joy may be full. We just need to learn how to live a full and complete life while on Earth.
For more information on the syndicated radio show hosted by DonnieMcClurkin, visit www.donnieradio.com. For more information on Perfecting Faith Church, where DonnieMcClurkin serves as its senior pastor, visit www.perfectingfaith.com. The latest, chart-topping album by DonnieMcClurkin is The Journey (Live) (RCA).