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Donnie McClurkin

Gospel singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin was born on November 9, 1959 in Copiague, New York to Donald McClurkin, Sr. and Frances McClurkin. McClurkin joined the choir at Amityville Full Gospel Tabernacle. At the age of fifteen, he became a member of Benny Cummings and the King’s Temple Choir. McClurkin attended Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School.

McClurkin formed the McClurkin Singers with his older sisters and a neighbor; and in 1983, the group performed with the Tri-Boro Mass Choir, led by Albert Jamison, who introduced McClurkin to gospel singer James Cleveland, who became a mentor to McClurkin. McClurkin made annual visits to Los Angeles, California to sing with Cleveland at Cornerstone Institutional Baptist Church. From 1987 to 1989, McClurkin sang in the chorus for the Broadway production of Don't Get God Started, which debuted at the Longacre Theatre in New York City. In 1989, McClurkin moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he and Pastor Marvin L. Winans co-founded Perfecting Church. With the choir, McClurkin recorded the songs “Speak to My Heart” and “We Worship You.” After signing with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., McClurkin released his first self-titled solo album in 1996, which gospel singer and mentor Andrae Crouch helped to produce. In the late 1990s, McClurkin wrote songs for the animated film The Prince of Egypt, and signed a publishing contract with The Walt Disney Company. He also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and performed at the Grammy and Stellar Awards. His second album, Live in London and More, was number one on the U.S. Gospel Chart for more than forty weeks after its release in 2000.

McClurkin was ordained as a pastor by Marvin L. Winans in 2001. That same year, he established Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York, which started as a small bible study group. His weekly radio program, The Donnie McClurkin Show, debuted in 2006, and went on to broadcast in over seventy-five markets. From 2010 to 2015, McClurkin appeared as a judge on five seasons of BET’s Sunday Best. His discography includes Again (2003), Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (2004), We Are All One (Live in Detroit) (2008), Duets (2014), and The Journey (Live) (2016).

McClurkin released his autobiography Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor in 2001; and was the subject of the subsequent biographical documentary From Darkness to Light: The Donnie McClurkin Story in 2004. McClurkin had a cameo role in the film The Fighting Temptations, and starred alongside actors Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba in the movie The Gospel in 2005. His weekly television program Perfecting Your Faith began airing on The Word Network in 2009. McClurkin collaborated often with gospel singers Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams, including on the Hopeville tour, and received numerous awards for his music, including multiple Grammy, Stellar, Dove, and NAACP Image Awards.

Donnie McClurkin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 6, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.068

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/6/2016

10/08/2016

Last Name

McClurkin

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High School

Deauville Gardens Elementary School

Copiague Middle School

First Name

Donnie

Birth City, State, Country

Copiague

HM ID

MCC19

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

No Is As Good An Answer As Yes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/9/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Jamaican

Short Description

Gospel singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin (1959 - ) released multiple successful gospel albums, including Donnie McClurkin and Live in London and More. He also founded and served as senior pastor of the Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York.

Employment

Perfecting Church

Various

Perfecting Faith Church

The Gospel

"Donnie McClurkin Show"

BET

Favorite Color

Black, but according to my mood

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donnie McClurkin's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkn describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin describes his mother's upbringing in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes his mother's church community

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin talks about how his maternal grandmother coped with her rape

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin describes his maternal grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his neighborhood in Amityville, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Donnie McClurkin describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Donnie McClurkin describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about buying his paternal grandfather's property

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin recalls visiting his paternal relatives in Chester, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls being called a racial slur in kindergarten

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin remembers celebrating Christmas with his family

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin remembers singing his first church solo

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Donnie McClurkin describes his parents' relationship

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his mother's parenting methods

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes his relationship with his father, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin describes his relationship with his father, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls the death of his younger brother, Thomas McClurkin

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes his experience of childhood sexual abuse

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his family's move after his brother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his religious conversion

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin describes his early relationship with God

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin recalls meeting Andrae Crouch

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes Andrae Crouch's career as a gospel singer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his friendship with Andrae Crouch

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his commitment to the church

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his introduction to songwriting

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his first musical performance

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin recalls forming the McClurkin Singers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his experiences of bullying

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin remembers singing for James Cleveland, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin remembers singing for James Cleveland, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin recalls being offered a contract with Savoy Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin recalls singing at the Democratic National Convention and the White House

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin recalls struggling with his sexuality, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls struggling with his sexuality, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Donnie McCLurkin recalls changing his lifestyle after his spiritual awakening

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin recalls how his sisters helped him with his sexuality

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin shares his views on homosexuality

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Donnie McClurkin describes his attitude toward homosexuality as a pastor, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin describes his attitude toward homosexuality as a pastor, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin shares a biblical story

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin describes his religious philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his leukemia diagnosis

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his first performance at the Grammy Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls signing a recording contract with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin describes the success of his debut album

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin remembers singing 'The Prayer' with Yolanda Adams

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin recalls writing songs for The Walt Disney Company

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin recalls signing a recording contract with Verity Records

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin reflects upon the success of his album, 'Live in London and More'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin talks about contemporary gospel artists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin reflects upon his awards and accolades

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his son, Matthew McClurkin

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his adopted daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin recalls founding the Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his book, 'Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the importance of mental healthcare in the black community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Donnie McClurkin's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes his early musical influences

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin describes his family's musical taste

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin recalls the television programs of his youth

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes his favorite musical groups of the 1970s

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin describes his musical inspiration

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin remembers the inspiration for his song, 'Stand'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin describes his relationship with God, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin describes his relationship with God, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Donnie McClurkin talks about struggling with desire

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Donnie McClurkin shares his views on social labels

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his role in 'Don't Get God Started'

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his audition for 'Don't Get God Started'

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the Broadway production of 'Don't Get God Started'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin remembers befriending Marvin Winans

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes the cast of 'Don't Get God Started'

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin describes the community of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin describes the history of gospel music in California

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin describes the musical success of the Winans family

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the famous gospel singers from Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes the Perfecting Church in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin describes the services at the Perfecting Church

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin describes the community programs of the Perfecting Church

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin describes the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls founding the Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin remembers the support of Charles E. Blake, Sr.

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin remembers his challenges at the Perfecting Faith Church

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin describes the growth of the Perfecting Faith Church

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his social media presence

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin recalls the responses to his book, 'Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor'

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his personal relationships

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin describes his friendship with Yolanda Adams

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin talks about 'The Donnie McClurkin Story: From Darkness to Light'

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his appearance in 'The Fighting Temptations'

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin recalls performing in the Hopeville gospel tour

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin describes his work as an actor

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about 'The Donnie McClurkin Show'

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the Donnie TV multimedia website

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin recalls his role as a judge on BET's 'Sunday Best'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his support for emerging musical artists

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his role as a father

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin describes his relationship with his son

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin recalls introducing his son to his fiancee

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin reflects upon the importance of community activism

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the future of gospel music

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Donnie McClurkin describes the problems with recording contracts

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Donnie McClurkin talks about his skill as an actor

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Donnie McClurkin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Donnie McClurkin shares a message to young African American men, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Donnie McClurkin describes the racial history of the United States

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Donnie McClurkin reflects upon the recent police shootings

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Donnie McClurkin shares a message to young African American men, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Donnie McClurkin talks about the importance of interfaith cooperation

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Donnie McClurkin talks about President Donald John Trump

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$9

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Donnie McClurkin recalls meeting Andrae Crouch
Donnie McClurkin recalls his audition for 'Don't Get God Started'
Transcript
You're a little boy. You taught yourself how to play piano?$$No, Frances [Frances McClurkin]--$$No?$$--Frances taught--$$Ah.$$--Donnie [HistoryMaker Donnie McClurkin] how to play the piano.$$Okay. Your, your mother?$$My mother.$$Right okay so that's not right.$$Yeah, my mom taught me basics on the piano. And I always had one finger on one hand, two fingers on the other, three fingers on this one, yeah, we progressed from one finger on this to three fingers on this one. And then a man by the name of Andrae Crouch came into our lives by way of music. And I was nine years old when I heard the first record from Andrae Crouch and it's, it was Andrae Crouch and The Disciples. And man, I, oh, I was in love with it, all of the songs, (singing) "Jesus is the answer for the world today. Above him there is no other, Jesus is the way" ['Jesus is the Answer']. I was in love with this guy. And I would, I took the speakers those, those big, you know, three, and three foot speakers and turned them to face each other and laid my head in between them on the floor, and just be at the concert, be in the, be in the recording. And he came to our church, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Jamaica, Queens [New York], and my mother had moved to that church. And I begged her, "Can we go to the concert?" And she said, "Yes." It was on a, like a week, like a, like a Tuesday night in October. And we went and, and, and his sister, Sandra [Sandra Crouch] had on makeup and pants (gasping) oh, my god. The strict Pentecostal, the denomination I was raised in, makeup and pants on a woman, that was, that was anathema, that was a curse. I couldn't stop staring at her. And then they sang and I'm, I knew every song. And he went into the back study with the pastor and everybody left the sanctuary, we turned the lights off, there was one light over the pulpit and I sat and my mother said, "Donnie, you gotta come on 'cause you got school tomorrow." I said, "Mommy, please let me stay," he went in that room. And she heard something again and she said, "Okay, but you gotta promise to get up for school," like I had a choice.$$(Laughter).$$And I sat there and finally he came out of the office and saw me sitting there and said, "Hey, little guy, what are you doing sitting here?" I said, "I was waiting for you." He said, "Well, what's your name?" I said, "Donnie." He said, "My name is Andrae." I said, "I know." And he said, "Well, are you born again?" Now, this man in his twenties is talking to an eleven year old, "Are you born again?" I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "I, I was born again at nine." I said, "I know, me too." I was, I was so enamored. He said, "Well, do you sing?" I said, "No." "Do you play the piano?" I said, "No." He said, "I didn't play either, my father [Benjamin Crouch, Sr.] laid hands on me when I was eleven years old and that's how I got the gift to play." I said, "I'm eleven but my father [Donald McClurkin, Sr.] can't pray for me 'cause he's not born again." And Andrae said, "Do you mind if I pray for you?" And he laid his hands on my head and said, "God give him what you gave to me," patted my face and walked away, and that's how I got all this. Amazing. That's how, and he became a mentor of mine and then he became a friend of mine and then I was able, I was able to minister with him and to him until he passed away a year and a half ago.$And we're walking out and while we're walking out and I'm dejected, I'm just heartbroken. A guy named Stanley Brown comes in, he says, "Oh, my god, we were just talking about you. We were just talking about you." I said, "Who?" He said, "Me and Marvin Winans." I just dropped him off at the Milford Plaza [Milford Plaza Hotel; Row NYC Hotel] in Manhattan [New York, New York], we were just talking about you." And well, Stanley wasn't really the most credible guy at the time, sorry, Stanley. And, and I was saying, "Yeah, okay, tell him I said hi." I'm trying to get out 'cause I'm so embarrassed. People had stopped and we're talking, he runs to the pay phone, this is in 1987, he runs to the pay phone, he comes back, taps me on the shoulder and says, "Marvin Winans is on the phone." I go to the pay phone, pay phone, and surely it's Marvin Winans. And, "Oh, oh, man, oh, man I forgot all about you. Listen what are you doing tomorrow?" I said, "What?" "What are you doing tomorrow?" You know, we did small talk. I said, "I gotta go to work." He said, "You and your sister," my sister, how did he know my sister was with me? "You and your sister go down to Lafayette Street in Greenwich Village [New York, New York] tomorrow." "For what?"$$(Laughter).$$"Look, just go down there, just take off from work." Now, we're not that close but he, I'm so timid he intimidated me.$$And what was your job at this point?$$I was working at import export at Kennedy Airport [John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, New York].$$(Laughter).$$And Andrea [Andrea McClurkin-Mellini] was working at some agency, I forget the name of the agency. And I said we, I came back and said, "Well, that was Marvin Winans, we gotta take off work tomorrow." "I'm not taking off work."$$(Laughter).$$"We have to take off work, he said we have to take off work." I don't know how (laughter) he had the power over us he did, you know. Darn you, Marvin Winans. And we took off the next day and we went down to Greenwich Village, went to Lafayette Street. We go to the address and we walk in there's three hundred people in there, and they're all, and we walk in and we saw someone that we knew, Monique Walker. She said, "What y'all doing here?" I said, "Well, Marvin Winans told us to come down here." She said, "Oh, you're in the right place." And I said, "Well, what is this?" "It's for a Broadway show." I said, "Oh, absolutely not. No, let's go Andrea 'cause we can't do Broadway. The Bible says we can't do Broadway," because the Bible said, "broad is the way that leads to destruction, that's a scripture, broad is the way that leads to destruction, to destruction and many there are that follow it." [Matthew 7:13] So, me being that ultra-religious guy, "We can't do Broadway because the Bible says, 'broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there are that follow it.' Let's go, let's go." And we're walking to the door, get to the door, this little short lady with no neck named Samantha [ph.] who is a, who is a chronic smoker, small, small Jewish lady named Samantha. She comes and says, "Is there a soprano here?" So, everybody raises their hand, 'cause everybody wanted a part in (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sure.$$--the play ['Don't Get God Started'] 'cause this is Broadway, this ain't off-Broadway, this ain't off, off, Broadway, this is Broadway. And we're walking out and the lady points through three hundred people and says to Andrea, "You, at the door, are you a soprano?" And Monique says, "Yeah, she's a soprano." "Could you come with me?" I'm saying, "Andrea, when you're finished let's go, we gotta go." And they come back, they get me and ask me to come into the room 'cause I'm, they need me to play a song for her. I played the song and then the, the, the music director said, "Okay, now, you sing for us too." I sang, he said, "Well, you can wait outside." I said, "No, no, we're not waiting outside, Andrea, come on, we have to go." And the music director got mad, his name was Steven Ford, he said, "You can step outside, I'm not finished with her." I said, "She's finished, let's go." "What is your name?" I said, "My name is Donnie." He said, "Donnie what?" I said, "[HistoryMaker] Donnie McClurkin." "Oh, my god, you got the job. You've got the job. Marvin Winans told me you were coming, I'm so sorry, you got the job. You and your sister report back here next week." "For what?"$$(Laughter).$$So, the next week we had to go back down and there were thirty. And then the next week we had to go back again, and there were twelve, that was the twelve that made the cut. And this guy, Barry Hankerson, who was a major, major manager back then in the day, Gladys Knight, what's the girl that died in the plane accident? Aish-$$Aaliyah.$$Aaliyah, yeah, Aaliyah. He was everybody's manager. And that's how we got the part to the Broadway play--