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Interview: Donnie McClurkin Tells of the Time Aretha Franklin Made Him Cry

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Donnie McClurkin, award-winning recording artist, pastor, and radio host, was among several performers tapped to pay tribute to the late Aretha Franklin’s gospel roots and her transformative gospel album, “Amazing Grace,” at the 2018 American Music Awards.

Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, and CeCe Winans (read our interview with her) were scheduled to join McClurkin in headlining the special gospel tribute to Franklin at the American Music Awards (AMAs), while Rickey Minor was to serve as musical director. The AMAs, hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross, airs live from Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 9 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Franklin, who started singing at 12 in her father’s church, released “Amazing Grace” in 1972 after a string of pop, R&B, and soul hits. “Amazing Grace”, recorded live at a church over a period of two nights, proved so powerful it remains the highest-selling album of Franklin’s decades-long career—yet isn’t always appreciated by the secular masses. Franklin, who racked up numerous accolades, including six AMAs, was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. She died of advanced pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 on August 16, 2018.

In an interview with Faithfully Magazine conducted Oct. 8 via phone, McClurkin explains how Franklin “revolutionized gospel music” and recalls the time the queen of soul showed him respect as a professional artist.

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Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menzie a religion reporter whose bylines have appeared on the websites of the Religion News Service, The Christian Post, CBS News and Vibe magazine. Nicola is the Managing Editor at You can find her on Twitter @namenzie. Email: nicola.menzie (at)

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