Pastor and gospel music powerhouse Donnie McClurkin seems to always find himself in the middle of a storm. A few months ago, it was the storm of performing and ministering in the Ukraine — where he witnessed the beginning of a change in government. And a year ago, he had to work through the deaths of both parents.
Perhaps best known for writing and performing soul-stirring, memorable gospel cuts, including 1996’s “Stand,” McClurkin returns to Chicago on Good Friday to perform at Christ Universal Temple with a group of like-minded gospel singers who call themselves the Singing Shepherds. McClurkin will be joined by Micah Stampley, Phil Tarver, Malcolm Williams & Great Faith, Tim White, Beverly Crawford, Pastor Derrick Wells and The Legacy Choir and New Direction.
McClurkin is also celebrating the release of a new album, “Duets,” featuring songs with a plethora of famous singers. It’s his first CD in five years, and we recently talked to him to find out what he’s been doing in that time.
Q. How many songs did you write during your break?
Donnie McClurkin: In the five years I haven’t written anything. When I finish with a CD, I move on to other things and I don’t go back to music until it’s time again. I’ve been really focused on ministry and family. When it comes time for music it starts to build up inside of me. That’s like every five years.
Q. Gospel music was born on the South Side, on King Drive, when Thomas Dorsey of Pilgrim Baptist Church wrote “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” He was influenced by the death of his wife in childbirth. That said, how has Chicago influenced your music?
DM: The inspiration for my songs never comes from a specific locale — it comes from different things that I hear spiritually. But I have been more biblically accurate based on Pastor Bill Winston’s ministry [at The Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park]. He’s impacted [fellow gospel singer and Chicagoan] Donald Lawrence. His messages are empowering. I guess that’s probably where the “We Are Victorious” slant came from on the new album. [Winston] teaches messages about ownership, about becoming the authority and becoming empowered in who you are as opposed to what you do.
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