Tuesday, March 31
Donnie McClurkin Gets Real as He Talks About His New CD & Being Delivered from Homosexuality with Carrington J. Lei
What I learned today: Pastor Donnie McClurkin isn't a man to mince words. Serious about the Lord, his ministry and his music, he speaks candidly in a no holds barred interview about his new CD, "We Are All One - Live in Detroit (out today) and is surprisingly forthcoming as I quizzed him about rumors of homosexuality and the Lesbian Bisexual Gay & Transgendered community putting pressure on the Obama campaign after he was announced as a performer during the '08 presidential campaign.
I walked away from our talk with a new found respect - and understanding of Pastor McClurkin, particularly as he got real about the time he had to go off during church on a group of angry people who showed up to disrupt his service.
CARRINGTON LEI: I don’t know how to address you - should I call you, Pastor McClurkin? (laughs)
DONNIE McCLURKIN: You can call me Donnie – that’s my name.
CARRINGTON LEI: So, you've finally come out with a new CD, why do you wait so long in between CD’s?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: I don’t want to be a mass producer of music. I want to wait until it’s time. There’s so much music out there, you want to back up every now and then and enjoy the music that’s out.
CARRINGTON LEI: You’ve got the phenomenal Karen Clark-Sheard on “Wait on the Lord”, which is the first single - who else is on the album?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: We’ve got CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams and Mary Mary on one song called, “When You Love”. We’ve also got a new artist called, Duawne Starling on a song called, “Home Someday”. So, we’ve used this CD as a platform for other artist as well.
CARRINGTON LEI: Do you have a favorite song on this one?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: I don’t know if I have a favorite song, but I’ve got a few – “Wait on the Lord” is one of my favorites because it’s a classic with Karen Clark-Sheard and Detroit and Clark’s are synonymous. We’ve been friends for decades, but this is the first time we’ve sung together. There’s also a song called, “The Great I Am” that takes me back to my Church of God in Christ roots – it’s just a jubilant, tambourine raisin’, shoutin’ in the aisle song.
Wait On The Lord (featuring Karen Clark-Sheard):
CARRINGTON LEI: So, is that the kind of music that we can expect from this CD, because nobody really does those foot stompin’, "Hold My Mule" type songs that grandma used to sing, anymore.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: This CD is going to be such an eclectic array of music. There is a love song called, “When You Love” which is totally different from the rest of the CD. And then you have songs like, “Home Someday” which is The Winans sort of music - as well as the church songs.
CARRINGTON LEI: Tell me how you feel about some of the younger artist doing gospel music that has a secular feel – are you receptive to that?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Gospel music has always been progressive. They said Mahalia Jackson had a secular feel. They wouldn’t let her come and sing in churches because they said that she was singing the blues. She had people like Duke Ellington playing behind her at certain times in her career -she had bass guitar, drums. That was blues music, so she had to sing in arena’s – she was ahead of her time.
“Oh Happy Day” was being played in the clubs in San Francisco when it hit and forty-years later, it’s the classic gospel song that people are singing all over the world. So, now when I listen to J. Moss, KeKe Sheard and the rest of these kids singing, I get excited because it means that we’re still on track.
CARRINGTON LEI: I have to admit that I didn't always feel that way, but I've evolved over the years. Once, I interviewed a guy out of Atlanta that I’d never heard of but after talking to him, I went out and bought his CD and after listening to it, it easily became my favorite CD last year - secular or otherwise. I’ll tell anybody who’ll listen that Canton Jones is a bad man.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Oh man, I love Canton! (begins singing Jones' track, “My Day”).
CARRINGTON LEI: When I bought that CD, I would listen to it in place of my secular CD's and I didn’t even miss them. He is so heavily influenced by God, yet so R&B infused that you don’t realize that you’re getting a message until it’s too late – he definitely sneaks up on you through Canton's music.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Right, and that’s the thing – gospel music is supposed to reach the world and when I hear these people using sounds that could be Usher, Rihanna or Fantasia and they keep the message the same - that’s when I know that music is going for it.
CARRINGTON LEI: I'm going to tell you a quick story; my favorite Donnie McClurkin song is, “Great is Your Mercy” – years ago, I was working for a non-profit organization that only paid once a month so, by the time I got paid, I was broke all over again.
When mp3 players first came out, I had one with all secular music and “Great is Your Mercy” on it. One day one I was out jogging and it had been raining the day before, so I was dodging puddles of water as I ran. I was dead broke and I saying, “How am I going to make it another four days with no money? I don’t know where I’m going to find a dollar!”
Just as I made that statement, the song was on the part where it says, “Forever faithful, towards me… you’re always providing for me…” and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was running and I stepped into a puddle of muddy water.
Just as the water separated, I looked down and there was a dollar bill laying in the water. I bent down to pick it up and I knew that it wasn’t a coincidence - I made it, and I have the filthy dollar bill in my bible to this day.
So that song is my favorite because I always remember that day - do you have a favorite Donnie McClurkin song?
DONNIE: McCLURKIN: Wow, what you say? That is fantastic! But, I really don’t. It’s like saying which one of your children is your favorite child.
CARRINGTON LEI: Don't you ever ride your car listening to Donnie McClurkin?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Ne-ver! Once I’m done with a project, I go on to something else.
CARRINGTON LEI: I think a lot of people run from religion and specifically, religious people because many are afraid because they think that their lives have to change to the point where we no longer enjoy life because you’re living strictly for the Lord – what is day to day life like? Do you watch “The Game” or listen to Mary J. Blige?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: No, I don’t listen to anything with cursing in it because I don’t curse. I’m into my judge shows. I watch court shows all day long; Judge Milian, Judge David Young – he’s a gay judge, but he’s so funny.
We have fun too. I’ve got season passes to Universal Island of Adventure and the movie lot. I go there when I get a break and I ride all the roller coasters, but I don’t really listen to secular music because I listen to music that has inspiration. We can laugh until we cry - but keep it clean.
CARRINGTON LEI: Is there anyone in secular music that you would do a song with?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: James Taylor – everything he does is borderline gospel anyway.
CARRINGTON LEI: Have you ever recorded a song and, after playing it back said, “This is ugly!”?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Oh, yes! Mostly every CD there are three of four songs that leave me like, “Nail that garbage.” (laughter)
CARRINGTON LEI: I’ve always wanted to ask someone who knew first hand about the “Oprah factor”, and I want to know because I need to be ready when I sit on that couch after my book comes out – did your life change after your appearance on her show in terms of record sales?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Definitely. With my first CD, Oprah asked me to come down to the Bahamas because she was doing a week long show there and she wanted me to sing “Stand”. Before we got ready to go on she said, “Donnie come here – has your CD gone gold yet?” and I said, “No ma’am.” Then she said, “OK.” And she took a copy of the CD and held it up and said, “Y’all, this is my favorite CD and I work out every morning to this CD and I brought Donnie here to sing, and you all need this CD.” – a month later, we went gold.
CARRINGTON LEI: That's amazing! So, do people randomly stop you and ask for prayer or advice?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: They stop me in the supermarkets, in the mall, driving – wherever they see you, they stop you. We went down for the inauguration and it took me thirty-five minutes to get back to the hotel and it was right down the street. People wanted you to pray for them. It’s not exhausting; it’s significant to the ministry so you can’t get tired of the people God has called you to minister to.
You can’t become a celebrity and say, “Oh my God, these people are getting on my nerves - I need a limousine, I need sunglasses!” I refuse to wear sunglasses because I don’t want people to think – celebrity.
CARRINGTON LEI: Speaking of President Obama, you, along with other gospel acts were tapped to perform during the campaign – were you surprised by the backlash from the gay community?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Not at all because for the last eight years I’ve gone through the same thing. It’s not the gay community; it’s a few of the activist. There are a lot of people in the gay community who are ardent fans of gospel music.
Before we started this interview I went onto the Internet and saw an anti-Donnie McClurkin blog and they put this fake interview up of somebody who said that they were with me. In the comment section there were people saying derogatory things about me, but then the Christian community must have gotten a hold of it and they were supporting me and it ended up being a situation where even some gay people were saying, “Leave him alone!”
I’m used to this now and whether gay or straight, God called me to minister to everybody and those who have negative things to say, let them be the few and far between.
CARRINGTON LEI: Now, a part of the reason so many people take issue with you is because you believe that homosexuality is a choice and can be, I’m not sure how to phrase this – is "cured" the right word?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Cured is what they have said in order to make it more villainous or controversial. Most of the things you read that I’ve said, I have not said. There’s always a spin on it, it’s all according to whose telling the story – it’s not good print if it’s not controversial.
I never said that I was cured from anything, I said that I was delivered, and that’s what God does - He delivers.
CARRINGTON LEI: So, when you say delivered, does that mean that you were delivered from homosexuality – or the ability to act on a same-sex attraction, because there’s a difference.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Is there a difference?
CARRINGTON LEI: I absolutely believe that there is a difference. You considered yourself gay at one point and now you say that you’re delivered. To me, the term delivered can be pretty ambiguous, depending on how you use it. The difference in saying, “I’m attracted to the same sex, but I’m choosing not to act on my attraction” and not having an attraction at all is vastly different.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: Not at all. The bottom line is that it’s all the same. It’s by not choosing to act that the attraction and the appetite starts to abate and wane.
I’m a diabetic now and I don’t eat sugar, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want sugar. The more I don’t eat the sugar, the more I lose the taste for sugar and the more my diet starts to change permanently – I can’t stand a regular soda now because it’s too much sugar. So, the more I don’t intake the sugar, the more it leaves out of my desire.
CARRINGTON LEI: I never really thought of it that way, but it makes sense. So, how do gay people who disagree with your position, approach you? Are they angry with you?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: There has only been one instance were I had an angry outburst. Seven people came to our church and one young man came up to the alter call and he wanted to become verbal and aggressive while people were up there crying for God. Well, I’m not the traditional guy and my thing was, “If you don’t want God, go back to your seat and sit down and don’t you ever walk up here again with this! Do you think you can stop this? You can’t stop these people from receiving Jesus, so you go and sit down and don’t you open your mouth again until we finish this service!”
Then they wanted to leave and I told them to hold the door and don’t let them go nowhere. You came in here, you’re gonna stay until we finish the service.
CARRINGTON LEI: Wow, how did that end?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: In the ministry that I pastor, God has given me the control there and I’m not gonna let anybody come in and upset what God has done. If you want to talk to me, wait until I finish and say, “Can I have a word with you because I don’t agree with you.” those words alone will peak my interest and I’ll say, "Come on sit down - let’s discuss."
CARRINGTON LEI: And how do I follow that up? (laughter) When is the CD officially released?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: The release date is March 31st.
CARRINGTON LEI: That’s my mama’s birthday, I’ma buy her a Donnie McClurkin CD. (laughs)
DONNIE McCLURKIN: What a cheap son you are! (laughs)
CARRINGTON LEI: I didn’t say that’s all I’m buying. (laughs) Are you going to tour with this CD?
DONNIE McCLURKIN: We’re setting up a 40 city tour right now.
CARRINGTON LEI: Well, Pastor McClurkin, it was certainly good to sit with you and I look forward to checking out your show when you come back through Houston.
DONNIE McCLURKIN: God bless you, man.
WE ALL ARE ONE (Live in Detroit ) March 31