Donnie McClurkin is one of the most recognizable — and controversial — figures in the Gospel music arena. Beginning with his solo debut in 1997, McClurkin has pressed his listeners to examine the nuances of life's ominous struggles, as well as the ultimate road to redemption that every man ends up traveling. Through the power of song, Donnie McClurkin has given the world intimate insight into the trials and tribulations of his life, and his recent autobiography, Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor, builds upon his belief that "a saint is just a sinner that fell down and got up."
To date, McClurkin has received two GRAMMY Awards from his industry peers: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for ...Again (2003) and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album for Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (2005). His best-selling album, however, is the platinum, critically-acclaimed Live in London and More... (2000).
Upon review of We Are All One (Live in Detroit), Donnie McClurkin managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on the role of religion in politics, the Winans family's influence on his career, and the difference between preaching and singing.
Throughout the course of your career, you have stated that the Winans family was a key part of your personal and professional growth and maturity. In what particular ways did they shape the course of your career?
Marvin Winans was the one who saw who I was going to be and told me who I was going to be. Marvin Winans told me point blank, "God's going to make your name greater than mine and I've got to get you ready for it. The Lord told me to get you ready." He took painstaking time to prepare me for what I'm doing now. He was selfless. He shared everything of his platform. He became nobody and pushed me and made me know the spirituality, understand how to keep myself holy and remain uncompromised. When I did mess up he said: "Tell the truth when you mess up, boy." He's just a year-and-a-half older than I am but he was more like a father figure to me in the Gospel. In this industry that he already conquered, it was his job to make sure that I kept balanced and glorified God and not glorified Donnie. Bebe Winans was like, "Donnie, anything from my house is yours." He sang my song "Stand" to Maya Angelou for her 70th birthday. And Oprah approached him and said, "Oh, Bebe. That's a wonderful song. I really liked that song." He said, "Do you really want to hear this song? Donnie McClurkin – that's the boy you need to hear." The next thing I know, Oprah was calling me up. I was in the Bahamas. She said, "Bebe said I need to talk to you." The relationship started between me and Oprah because of Bebe. It was the Winans who taught me how to be comfortable with who I am and not to allow anything that was done or said fill me up. Be confident with God and stay true to the ministry.