‘We Fall Down’, ‘Speak To My Heart’, and ‘Stand’ are just a few of the gospel titles imparted over the last two decades that continue to stand the test of time. Gospel legend Donnie McClurkin, the critically acclaimed creator of all three tunes, boasts mastery of that very same test.
With radio, television, and music all lining his decorative resume, the Grammy winner continues to conquer many-a-media format. Then, just when fans thought he had no new ground to claim, McClurkin revealed news of a ‘Duets’ album (in stores March 4th).
Now, speaking exclusively to That Grape Juice, Pastor Donnie dishes on the project (which features Dorinda Clark Cole, Mary Mary, Tye Tribbett, Marvin Sapp, and more), the highly anticipated 7th season of BET’s ‘Sunday Best’, rumors of starting his own reality show, and so much more.
Find out what Donnie McClurkin had to say about these topics below:
Donnie McClurkin Shouts Out That Grape Juice
TGJ: Pastor Donnie! Thanks so much for taking the time!
Donnie: Not a problem at all. Thank you for having me.
TGJ: Before we begin, we have read reports about a health scare you had around the time of the 2014 Stellar Awards. How are you today?
Donnie: Some days are good, some days are bad. It’s just a matter of learning how to live with diabetes, how to change your diet, and overall better care of yourself. Thank God that He’s given me wisdom, even through my ignorance.
So I’m just learning how to take better care of me.
TGJ: That’s good to hear. Now, we see you’re back and better than ever with your new project ‘Duets’. It must be exciting!
Donnie: Honestly, of all the records I’ve done, I never really got excited until “Live In London”. But, I’m excited about this one because it allows me to co-minister with people who I love. I couldn’t fit them all on one project, but who knows, there may be a follow-up to come.
There’s Tina Cambpell & Erica Campbell (Mary Mary) on individual songs, Dorinda Clark Cole, Israel Houghton, Marvin Sapp, and many others. I got to see all of them in a different light.
TGJ: Why did you feel now was the time to release a duets-themed album?
Donnie: For years, I’ve only done sporadic duets like ‘The Prayer’ with Yolanda Adams or ‘Wait on the Lord’ with Karen Clark Sheard. But, I feel like by putting all these new duets on one album, I could show that the gospel music industry is truly united.
We are brothers and sisters. I’m considered “Uncle Donnie” to everybody.
TGJ: Well, we are definitely loving the album. However, we hear there was a track recorded with Grammy-winning R&B legend Anita Baker that was scrapped. Is that true?
Donnie: When you’ve got iconic figures like Anita, there’s always scheduling issues. Her heart was there to do it, but her schedule wouldn’t allow it.
There’s always tomorrow. So, all those Anita Baker fans out there, just hold on (laughs).
TGJ: We’re definitely looking forward to it. Now, we’re curious to know: if you could have your dream duet with any person living or dead, who would it be?
Donnie: I’d like to do a duet with Jesus (laughs). I truly believe because He is God and that all music came from Him, He must be an amazing singer.
But, I’d truly love to do a duet with Mahalia Jackson. And, truthfully, if I could do a duet with James Taylor or Barbra Streisand, I would love that!
Other than them, I love the Winans – Marvin, Bebe, Cece, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. I would say Kim Burrell, but she would kill me on stage (laughs). She and Zacardi Cortez, in my opinion, are beyond touching. Kim is the best female singer out today and Zacardi is the best male singer.
TGJ: Speaking of Kim Burrell, we are so excited to hear you guys are coming back for a season 7 of BET’s hit reality singing competition ‘Sunday Best’. What are you expecting to be different this time around?
Donnie: This time, we’ve got some brand new additions. We’ve got Kierra Sheard taking judging position to replace Cece Winans. Cece is donating her time to the church she’s building in Nashville. So, it’s going to be myself, Yolanda Adams, Kierra Sheard as judges, Kirk Franklin as host, and Kim Burrell as mentor.
The show is really growing. Now, we’re up to over 3 million viewers!
TGJ: Now, that’s what we like to hear. But, even 7 seasons in, there are still naysayers who disagree with the format of a “gospel competition”. What do you say to those who frown upon gospel singers competing?
Donnie: They’re not wrong. There is a competitive side to it, but they’re missing the greater good. ‘Sunday Best’ is a platform that continues the growth of gospel music. Before this show, you wouldn’t have 3 million viewers checking out the latest in gospel music.
It’s seen around the world every year. And, that came from BET – a secular network – that saw the value of gospel.
TGJ: BET is definitely a huge supporter of gospel – as evidenced by ‘Sunday Best’ and ‘The Sheards’ hit reality show. Have you ever considered a gospel reality show?
Donnie: My family and I were just talking this week about the crazy things that have gone on in our family. I’m not really considering doing one thought. But, if I ever did do one, it would have to be something really indicative of what my family is. It couldn’t be scripted. It would have to be impromptu.
TGJ: Last, but not least, we know that have to be one of, if not the, hardest working man in the business. From pastoring to singing to television, you’re everywhere. What else do you have going on?
Donnie: Well, there’s the nationally syndicated radio show ‘The Donnie McClurkin Show’ on Radio One. It’s reaching 5 million people. I never thought I would do radio, but it was Bebe Winans who got me into it.
It takes the grace of God to pastor a growing church with over 3000 people, to do a show on the Word network, to singing and recording, to going around the world to preach, and, of course, BET’s ‘Sunday Best’.
Let’s not forget, I’m a dad and granddad. Not to mention, I need time to be Donnie – but I have none (laughs). But, God puts the right people in your life who enable you and help you.
Interview by: Rashad Taylor (That Grape Juice US)