With a new CD on the way, a new season of BET’s “Sunday Best” on the horizon, a popular Internet radio show and an autumn tour billed as the biggest in gospel history with fellow juggernauts Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp and Israel Houghton, Donnie McClurkin could soon be known as the gospel king of all media.
The 53-year-old Amityville, N.Y.-born singer is taking all of his success in stride.
“God is the reason I’m still here. At this stage in my life, I should be fading into the background but thanks to God and a great publicist I’m still here,” McClurkin said during a recent stop in Pittsburgh, where he performed with CeCe Winans at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall for a Mother’s Day concert.
The show was a fundraiser for the annual Women’s Walk for Peace, a two-mile walk that begins on Pittsburgh’s North Side and ends near the National Aviary. The walk is scheduled to be held in October.
“We have been holding concerts for the past five years to raise money for the women’s walk for peace,” said Ronell Guy-Curtis, executive director.
McClurkin, who burst onto the gospel music scene as a soloist in 1996 with the popular anthem, “Stand,” has won numerous Grammy, Stellar, BET and Soul Train Awards for his work. He had previously been the lead vocalist for the New York Restoration Choir.
He may be adding more awards to his arsenal after the release of his forthcoming album.
“I have collaborated with John P. Kee, Tremaine Hawkins, Dorinda Clark Cole and Anita Baker on this new CD,” McClurkin said. “At last year’s BET awards me and several others sang and Anita Baker was backstage and I told her ‘one day we’re going to work together’ and she said ‘Sean Combs will produce it’ and a few months later I wrote a song and put out a tweet on Twitter and Anita contacted me and we’re doing the song. It leaves me in awe.”
The song is scheduled to be released in August.
In addition, McClurkin is gearing up for the September start of the King’s Men Tour, which was formulated by Kirk Franklin and being produced by Live Nation.
“Live Nation only does mega rock and R&B tours,” McClurkin said. “This is the first time they are doing gospel. When Kirk came to me and asked me to do it, I thought about it and realized it was divinely put together.
“There is no competition. We artists all have a kinship with each other. We are setting a precedent by taking gospel to the main stage. Live Nation is behind us 200 percent.” McClurkin added.
The King’s Men Tour is scheduled to begin on the West Coast in September and weave its way across the country to the East Coast in October.
If you can’t make it to the King’s Men concert, listeners can catch the maestro of music on the Donnie McClurkin show on internet radio.
According to McClurkin’s calculations, the show is heard in 70 to 80 markets and has 500 million listeners worldwide.
“I never thought that radio had such mass appeal. People listen daily to the radio. It becomes a community resource and the disc jockeys become a part of the family,” McClurkin said.
With his Perfecting Music Conferences, McClurkin travels across the country from city to city holding job and health fairs for people.
“You use your fame to lead people. People come out for the music, but we want to lead them to want what will make them great,” McClurkin said. “We want to make sure that people are healthy.”
The event, which begins in June, was started two years ago because McClurkin wanted to help the country’s people get more fit mentally, spiritually and financially.
His Camdon music label allows him to find the best and brightest talent on the gospel landscape.
“The record companies are a little too restricting and intrusive and it makes a slave out of the artist in order to get their ministry heard. My platform is to make sure that artists become strong and sufficient,” he said.
Currently, artists on McClurkin’s label include Nancy Jackson-Johnson, the Perfecting Faith Church Choir and Andrea McClurkin-Mellini.
“We’re working on a youth project right now and we are putting together a sampler of two songs from each artist that will be released soon,” he said.
He also pastors the 3,000 member Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, NY.
McClurkin can still be seen as a judge on BET’s “Sunday Best” this summer.
“We begin taping in June and we have already started auditions. This year there is a lot more talent,” he said.
In addition to McClurkin, Cece Winans and Yolanda Adams will serve as judges this season. Singer Kim Burrell will play the dual role of mentor and judge to the contestants.