For a man who has declared that he may at any moment cease making music to concentrate fully on his passion for ministering, Donnie McClurkin can never stay away long from recording profoundly uplifting music for the soul.
McClurkin’s pure love for the Lord has grown through crippling adversity that ultimately fortified his faith ten-fold. Born November 9, 1959, in Amityville, New York, his childhood home was mired in domestic violence and drug abuse until an aunt who sang with the great Andrae’ Crouch introduced him to the musical icon who in turn introduced him to his future. Young Donnie played keyboards with his church youth choir before forming the McClurkin Singers with relatives and friends in 1979. Following a calling to preach, he never loosened his grasp on music. In 1989 Donnie started the NY Restoration Choir and recorded the album I See A World, which contained the classic “Speak to My Heart.”
Two near-simultaneous events changed McClurkin’s life forever. Just as he was appointed as an associate minister at Marvin Winans’ Perfecting Church in Detroit, he also learned that he’d been stricken with leukemia. While battling the disease, Donnie was signed to Warner Alliance Records as a solo artist where he recorded his pivotal self-titled album, marked by a smooth sophistication in the production that couched his soaring tenor for a series of soul-stirring numbers. Through BeBe Winans, media mogul Oprah Winfrey learned of Donnie’s music and struggle, invited him on her top-rated TV show , a golden opportunity that catapulted his CD to #4 on the gospel charts, recognition beyond the church world and gold + sales. Donnie soon after signed to Verity Records where his first CD, Live in London and More, would far surpass his solo debut thanks to secular radio embracing his gracefully reassuring “We Fall Down”. The song met with international acclaim, made the Top 40 of Billboard’s R&B chart and rocketed past platinum sales of over one million copies sold instantly making Donnie among gospel’s best selling artists.
He earned a trophy case full of Dove and Stellar Awards plus other honors including an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Artist. In 2001 Donnie graduated to establishing his own Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York, all the while continuing to release the magnificent musical works Again (2003) and the double-CD Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (2005) each one garnering the coveted Grammy Award.
He also leads workshops that introduce young African Americans to acoustic instruments and the works of Chopin and Bach without a Pro Tools in sight! It gives them inspiration to maybe pick up a viola or a cello that they may never have experienced within their monoculture.”
Still, at the end of the day, Donnie McClurkin has been and always will be a, card carryin’ member of the Church of God and Christ (COGIC).
“I’ve always been in awe of God,” Pastor Donnie McClurkin concludes. “I didn’t want anything on my latest offering, We All Are One, to reflect suffering or ‘climbing up that mountain’ in the way to which traditional Black gospel is accustomed. I wanted to luxuriate in and celebrate in the greatness of God.”