Monday, March 30, 2009

Donnie McClurkin Is Tired of Big Pimpin' Preachers

Finally...someone speaks about the over excess of super indulgent preacher lifestyles.

Donnie McClurkin, best-selling gospel singer, songwriter and a pastor himself, spoke with Essence in an article last week about the fancy opulent lifestyles of the church's rich and famous and candidly expressed his grief about their unwise choices.

"As pastors, we have to link arms and have bi-partisanships. The [Black] church has always been the face of the community. Now we have to take on the responsibility of becoming true servants to the people from all walks of life. I get so mad when I see these pimpin' preachers driving Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, flying around in their private jets, and making it seem like prosperity and money is the way of God when 90 percent of your congregation is on Section 8 or can't figure out how they are going to keep their lights on or feed their kids. I'm big on perception, and what would it look like for me to live so lavishly if the people in my church are struggling?”

This seems to be a popular matter on blogs and messages boards (see the
Mo'Kelly Report and lately as the lifestyles of Juanita Bynum and more recent Pastor Jamal Harrison-Bryant (of Baltimore, MD) are now causing a fixed blog sensation with the faith community. And while McClurkin has made his share of big bucks for his chart-topping albums, he goes on the record in the article to state that he doesn't receive "a dime" from the church he started eight years ago.

"I have one vehicle and it's not a Mercedes, it's a Lincoln Navigator. I don't receive a dime—not an Abraham Lincoln copper coin—and haven't for the last seven-and-a-half years because I'm okay.”

With the recent announcement of GM Motors CEO Rick Wagoner being forced to resign due to their failure to re-strategize the company in the face of a sour economy, it is probably time for the big pimpin' preachers to retire their lavish lifestyles and face reality. The super deluxe offerings is soon to run dry.

McClurkin is prepared to release his upcoming album, We All Are One (Live in Detroit); expected to hit stores March 31, 2009.

Donnie McClurkin Disgusted with Pastoral Excesses []

Thursday, March 19, 2009

News: BeBe Winans, Ken Cook, Hawkins Family, Idol

  • After excessive rounds of media coverage on the BeBe Winans' allegations of assault on his ex-wife, his publicist responded in a press release with these words: "Mr. Winans will not participate in any public display that may affect his children’s well being, but will instead use through the proper judicial channels to insure that his rights as a father are protected.” The gospel singer was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault after a dispute with his ex-wife, Debra Winans, in Nashville. An arrest warrant was filed on Wednesday last week and he was later released from the Davidson County jail Thursday after posting a $1,000 bond. Winans has stated through a previous statement from his publicist, also posted on his website, that "the allegations are inconsistent with my character."
  • Ken Cook, manager of national promotions for EMI Gospel, passed away on Monday, March 16, 2009 at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN, after a long bout with colon cancer. He was 37 years of age. The gospel executive, who previously worked for Malaco and Sony Records, was influential for pushing gospel radio to expand airplay for hit singles including Mary Mary's "Heaven" and Tye Tribbett's "Victory." His more recent work surrounded projects that included Myron Butler, Kierra Sheard and Jason Champion. Cook, who is survived by his wife, Dolli, will be laid to rest on Friday, March 20 at 10 a.m. Funeral services take place at New Life COGIC in Montgomery, Ala.
  • The legendary Hawkins Family (which included Walter Hawkins, Lynette Hawkins-Stephens, Edwin Hawkins and Lady Tramaine Hawkins) celebrated in song during a spectacular reunion concert in Richmond, VA. They went through songs including "Special Gift," "Changed," "What Is This," "Marvelous," "Oh, Happy Day" and "When the Battle Is Over." In the audience was Donnie McClurkin (who also joined the family on stage) and Richard Smallwood. According to a review posted by Tramaine Hawkins on her MySpace page from super fan Jared Sawyers, he stated that "Walter also announced to the crowd that this was his first time away from home since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last September." Our prayers and respects go out to Walter and to the First Family of Gospel. From the success of the concert, there is no word if a reunion tour will develop for the near future.

  • American Idol will be gearing up for Motown madness beginning next week as the show's top finalists select songs from the vast catalog of Motown Records; who celebrates 50 years of music this year. Smokey Robinson and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, who drops his new album Love IS on May 19, will perform on Thursday evening. Because of an important public address from President Barack Obama set to air on Tuesday next week, the show will instead air on Wednesday and Thursday on FOX.
  • Feel free to listen to Ruben Studdard's new song, "Together," produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

J Matt Talks About Gamble & Huff at

Gospel music isn't the only music genre that peaks my attention. Raised on the good stuff from my mom -n- pop's records, I found myself studying, learning and exposing myself to musical styles and genres consisting of pop, soul, R&B, disco, jazz and rock.

This month, I contributed an appreciation article to David Nathan's on the rich and enduring legacy of one of the greatest tag-team contributors to the soul music kingdom: Kenneth Gamble & Leon A. Huff. Their dynamic and creative forces drove the legendary Philadelphia International Records - one of the greatest black music labels of all time - to the top of the charts and opened doors for dozens of great music acts including Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, Bunny Sigler (talented songwriter who has just recently recorded a gospel album), the O'Jays, the Intruders, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, M.F.S.B. and Billy Paul. But beyond their smart entrepreneur skills, their work as a songwriter duo helped define the blueprint of '70s soul music and even pioneered what most music historians call the pulse of the disco movement. With the accompanying talented rhythm, string and horn sections of M.F.S.B., Gamble & Huff pumped out dozens of R&B and pop hit singles that include "Back Stabbers," "Only the Strong Survive," "Close the Door," "For the Love of Money," "When Will I See You Again, "The Love I Lost," "Love Train," and "If You Don't Love Me By Now." The list goes on and on and on.

The appreciation article on Gamble & Huff can be viewed at at: is one of the coolest websites focused on preserving the rich heritage and legacy of R&B and soul music. And I'm glad to be one of the fortunate ones to make such a contribution to their popular database of history. David Nathan (a.k.a. "British Ambassador of Soul), for those who may not know, is a stellar writer, music historian and has written wonderful liner notes for countless compilations and re-issues for Luther Vandross, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few.

Gamble & Huff Express Yourself Feature
[] [Official Website]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Freebies with Donnie McClurkin's Pre-Order from Verity

Pre-order Donnie McClurkin's WE ALL ARE ONE (Live in Detroit) NOW for just $9.99 and get a free poster and free instant download of "Trusting In You"! Pre-order at

Promotion runs untill March 30th! Be sure to check out "Wait On The Lord", featuring gospel powerhouse Karen Clark-Sheard.

Listen to the song here!

Wait On The Lord (AAC, Streaming, 128k, Audio)
Wait On The Lord (MP3, Streaming, 192k, Audio)

“Whatever I have, I offer to the Lord, and whatever He wants to do with it, He does.” This is Donnie McClurkin’s approach to making music.

McClurkin’s smash releases have brought home a trophy case full of awards which includes: 2007 Trumpet Award; two (2) Grammy Awards, Best Traditional Gospel Album- Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (2006), Best Soul Contemporary Gospel Album- Again (2004); NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Artist (2004), a BET Award (2001), a (2002) Soul Train Music Award and a number of Dove and Stellar Awards. His upcoming CD – WE ALL ARE ONE (Live In Detroit), his 4th for Verity Gospel Music Group, is sure to continue this trend.

Recorded at Straight Gate International Church in Detroit , the set features Karen Clark Sheard of The Clark Sisters on the first single “Wait On The Lord.” Other tracks include “Choose to Be Dancing,” “When You Love” featuring Mary Mary and Cece Winans; “Trusting In You” and more.

McClurkin’s television appearances are a mixture of performances on shows like Good Morning America, CBS Saturday Early Show, The View, Essence Awards, BET Awards, Trumpet Awards, UNCF: Evening of the Stars, Extra! TV Guide Channel, and cameos on sitcoms such as UPN’s “Girlfriends”, “The Parkers” and Paramount Studio’s award winning film “The Fighting Temptation” starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyonce Knowles. He has been featured in USA Today, New York Times, Essence Magazine, Ebony & Jet Magazine, Billboard, Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter and many others. Still with all the fame and acclaim he has accrued, McClurkin’s sights for posterity are set on things far greater than material gain.

McClurkin served as an assistant to Pastor Marvin Winans at Detroit’s Perfecting Church for over a decade; he was ordained and sent out by Winans in 2001 to establish Perfecting Faith Church , in Freeport , New York . After overcoming an abusive childhood McClurkin was compelled to share his story with others in his book, “Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor! As a teen he was drawn to street evangelism and prisons; his evangelistic approach and passion to minister to people are evident whenever he’s before an audience. Whether it is on Sunday mornings or in a large arena, his mission is to reach people with the good news of the gospel. “As much as I love music and singing, more now than ever before, I feel my greatest strengths and calling lie in pastoral ministry. It’s my very existence and my greatest joy,” said McClurkin.

When asked what message he wants his life to convey, McClurkin says, “I hope people will be able to say that I really had a true relationship with God,” he concluded. “Not only did I sing it, but my very life exemplified it…no fa├žade or hypocrisy. When I was wrong, I was wrong, but I took blame rather than allow holiness to appear to be some fabricated way of life. I want that people will not have seen me, but rather seen that this is what a relationship with Jesus is like and I would hope it could be said that holiness was what I lived, and what I passed on to the next generation, and the next.”

Wait on the Lord [AAC, Streaming]
Wait on the Lord [MP3 Streaming]

Friday, March 13, 2009

BeBe Gets Physical

Move over Chris Brown, you got some major competition now.

For gospel music lovers, this isn't the news we like to report, but it's news anyway. BeBe Winans is now the buzz on blogs for "allegedly pushing his ex-wife to the ground during an argument last month.;" according to pop blog Smoking Gun. Within the court filing, Winans, 45, and his former spouse got into a "verbal altercation" on February 13 about "custody issues dealing with their children." Winans was arrested for a misdemeanor domestic assault charge and was held briefly in the Davidson County Jail before posting a $1000 bond.

The incident went under the radar - until now. And the gospel community is now at a stand still. In the wake of Chris Brown's abusive tirade on singer pop star Rhianna and the commotion surrounding their careers, BeBe Winans is currently serving as a co-host and judge of BET's Sunday Best; now in its second season. Not sure if he's going to remain in that seat since protesters demanded Chris Brown be removed from the list of nominees at this year's Teen Choice Awards. They may call on the same actions from Winans.

And even bigger worries are bound to emerge: BeBe & CeCe Winans have a reunion album they are preparing to drop later this year. Surely this issue will disappear from the headlines, but not from the minds of those that cherished BeBe's healthy, wholesome, father-like image. As one colleague told the staff at PRAYZEHYMN today, "Sunday Best has become Sunday Worst."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

March Madness in Alabama Music

Alabama has always had strong music roots, whether the world noticed it or not. And the sheer thought of American Idol winners and runner-ups including Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks and Bo Bice is just another proud moment tucked in Alabama's rich heritage. It's such a relief that the Birmingham News is presenting a March Madness-styled tournament to find the No. 1 music icon that best represents the state. And boy, is there a rich list of selections to filter through. From the great jazz/pop crooner Nat King Cole to honkey-tonk pioneer Hank Williams, from jazz great Sun Ra to the dynamic soul legend Wilson Pickett, the offerings are a-plenty and cover a multitude of music genres; stretching from pop to gospel.

And out of the 64 seeds selected, the Birmingham News was gracious to put a good number of gospel legends through. And they are:

Birmingham native Dorothy Love Coates, also lead singer of the Original Gospel Harmonettes; who recorded a heap of gospel hits including "99 and a Half," "Get Away Jordan" and "That's Enough" and "You Can't Hurry God."

Ten time GRAMMY-Award winning pop/jazz/gospel sextet Take 6, who established their group at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala. Mervyn Warren, an original member, who has produced for Whitney Houston, Take 6, Quincy Jones, David Foster, Celine Dion, Brandy and Leann Rimes, was also born in Huntsville, Ala.

Vestal Goodman, a singer raised on the Southern Gospel tradition, sung with the Happy Goodmans. She enjoyed a healthy career singing with Bill & Gloria Gaither during their Homecoming celebrations.

The Blind Boys of Alabama, who started their career as students at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939, is a multiple GRAMMY-award winning quartet are driving forces in the traditional gospel genre and have recorded hits with Ben Harper, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, George Clinton and were even joined by Prince on state at a Knitting Factory show in 2008.

Other favorites in the list include the Temptations (former members Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and, later, Dennis Edwards are all from Alabama) Stax artist Eddie Floyd (known for writing and recording "Knock on Wood"), Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips, the legendary Muscle Shoals Backing Band, jazz great Dinah Washington, Motown artist Martha Reeves, Lionel Richie & the Commodores, blind blues sensation Clarence Carter, country-rock band Alabama and Tony-Award winning actress Nell Carter.

If you are interested in voting for your favorite gospel star, or any one of these great heroes in the music world, you still have a little time left. Submit your vote for first-round picks by going to: Should be a March Madness most Alabamaians won't forget.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mister McCoy Just Can't Take the Heat

While I am used to being in the hot seat, criticism is something that we all expect. Regardless if we are doing the best of our service or just lacking on a few accomplishments, we are met with pressure all the time. But the irony of the locals who celebrate their buddies and com padres is that while it is okay to attack others on their shortcomings and even their bloopers, you just can't point a finger at them when they end up on the hot seat.

Let's take a good long look at Mr. Brian McCoy. His personal home videos mainly feature Birmingham groups that are so dear to him (Arthur Beard & Elements of Worship, Chosen Generation, Prince Yelder). But he carefully screens the comments so that each piece of commentary reflects only good things and positive feedback from the public. I could okay that personal choice if only if McCoy reflected the same kind of fortitude with other groups and ministries. See, the old street saying rings aloud: "Be careful how you treat others, it just might come back to you and bite you in the ___." The same YouTube subscriber waddle on deep waters when he posts commentaries that criticize the recent BET Celebration of Gospel, men who sing like Karen Clark-Sheard and posting Chris Crocker parodies of embattled Birmingham, Ala. mayor Larry Langford. Goodness gracious, we have another pot calling a kettle black.

I was bugged by this episode while checking out a video of McCoy's local hero, Arthur Beard and his group. In a video titled Wonderful Is Your Name, where the group leaps into a 8-minute version of the Hezekiah Walker/Melvin Crispell mid-tempo jam bearing the same name, only positive feedback is featured. I wanted to toss up a was a light humor joke on how the director begins to jump up and down in a chaotic frenzy that looks more like Pokemon' doing jumping jacks [check it out at 3:11; video below]. The comment was never posted. That can be understandable since everyone can't take a joke. But McCoy easily pokes fun at other ministries and gospel singers and choirs...but it's totally unfair to talk about his own buddy system. How distasteful and...hmmm...hypocritical.

The hypocritical scale is tilted even more so when he writes that he "DO NOT TOLERATE CRITIQUES ON THIS CHANNEL! IF IT'S MINISTRY, NO CRITIQUING." Interesting, why is it okay for you to critique sharply and not your subscribers?

McCoy, here's some words of wisdom you may want to take heed to...don't talk about folk and their ministries aloud and you can't take the heat. Keep your thoughts to yourself. By the way, hasn't your pastor, the Rev. Gregory L. Clarke of New Hope Baptist Church (another person void of negative comments on his posts), been sentenced to 21 months in prison for "under reporting on his tax returns $110,000 in earned income during the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. I thought so.

Judge says convicted Birmingham pastor must go to prison Friday [Religion News Blog]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Gospel Today Bows Out from Printing

With the difficulties of today's economy putting a blunt death sentence on major print publications (Life) and popular black magazines like Honey, Savoy and Emerge, its staggering blow has extended itself to the 20-year old gospel lifestyle magazine Gospel Today. Recently announcing their retirement from the printing press, Dr. Teresa Hairston, the mag's founder and overseer, remains optimistic about its future as they re-strategize their business into an online-only publication.

In a press statement, Hairston hopes to "share news, information, products and services regarding the urban Christian community with the global community. The world is moving to Internet, and many of our advertisers and subscribers are already there."

Currently distributing e-blasts and offering online subscriptions only for its e-magazine, the Atlanta-based company is hoping to locate a print partner to provide subscribers a friendly print alternative of their online e-zine. Still, the problem rises over the idea that subscribers will have to pay for the online services.

The magazine made national headlines back in September 2008 when a certain issue was pulled from Lifeway Christian Stores, a chain of Southern Baptist-operated bookstores, due to its cover story featuring popular female pastors.

The magazine is also known within the gospel industry for establishing the Gospel Heritage Foundation; which oversees the annual Praise & Worship Conferences usually held in February.

Gospel Today [Official Website]