Donnie McClurkin
Live in London and More

We get more from Donnie McClurkin on his first venture with Verity Records. It's an appropriate title. Live in London and More. More great vocals. More great songs. More great ministry (see interview).

Live in London and More CDAfter a long wait from his debut solo project a few years ago, fans were left to catch him on TBN or at a travelling crusade to hear something new. The beauty of this was that as a result, many were exposed to McClurkin's ministerial gifting to witness that his ministry is the very essence of his music.

Not that the music alone is anything to sneeze at, but the full spectrum of ministry is what gives McClurkin dimension, and ultimately what speaks so personally to the hearts of men.

With a ministry that spawns from a God-given burden for people comes McClurkin's pipes of gold. Perhaps even more noteworthy is his ability to couple the two —musical gifting and ministry— in his songwriting.

He is quietly emerging as a writer of classics in the subtle but deliberate way that Richard Smallwood has. Before we knew it, "Stand" had become an anthem of the modern day charismatic church (black and white), much like Smallwood's "Center of My Joy" that came before. "Speak to My Heart" is another McClurkin gem that has become universally recognizable across many denominations and racial boundaries. We eagerly anticipate what new standards will emerge from Live in London and More.

One that is sure to stick is "Just For Me", a simple heartfelt ballad that describes the meaning of the cross. Already redone before it was done, "Just For Me" has that easily duplicable refrain that is an essential of a classic. The audience in London seems to agree, as they ably sing along on the recording.

From the mid-tempo cut "That's What I Believe" with trumpeting background vocals, comes the voice of encouragement —self encouragement. You can imagine it's written from a situation where perhaps youDonnie McClurkin in London HAVE to encourage yourself (because no one else will). The verses repeat, reminding you (and God!) of His promises to you. Reminding you to not let go until He blesses you, simply because He has promised He will.

The guest appearance by Marvin Winans on "Who Would've Thought" gives us a tease at the "Caribbean Medley" to come, and is a delightful vocal dance between friends. It winds up in an island-tempered reprise that is a nice touch.

The full spread of the "Caribbean Medley" that follows keeps the party going. Traditional Jamaican tunes arranged by McClurkin surely only impart a fraction of the celebration that was kickin' in London during the recording. If they had crammed anymore of this jam onto the disc, the packaging may have burst. The interpretation of island flava is wildly successful and authentic. (As a hard-nosed skeptic when it comes to the 'island genre', I confess to have been converted!)

Ballads "Didn't You Know" and "I'll Trust You Lord", with soaring strings arranged and conducted by Steven Ford, are among the slow song standouts.

But it's "We Fall Down" that is the clear heavy-hitter. Penned by Kyle Matthews, McClurkin shares the correlation of the song to the text from Proverbs 24:16 that says "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again." It is an encouragement that no matter what situation is presented, God can recover you. In McClurkin's words "No matter how many promises you've made [to God] and broken, He will forgive you." Winans brings powerful closure to the song as he makes it a personal thing —"I fell down"— and communicates sure triumph despite the fall that is sure to come for us all.

The renowned background singers are thrust into the spotlight on the straightforward "Great is Your Mercy". Directed by co-producer Kevin Bond, a simple verse is interpreted by each singer, which then culminates in a multi-part harmony turn with McClurkin singing bass.

Donnie McClurkin in LondonThere are also some intriguing sidebars to this project. In choosing London as his recording locale, McClurkin follows in the footsteps of his mentor, Andrae Crouch, whom he credits with giving him his first step up into the Gospel music industry. (Crouch and The Disciples recorded their Live in London album back in 1978.) On this project, McClurkin recruits the powerfully anointed voices of UK favorites, The Ruach Ministries Choir for the live portion of the CD. Not only are their vocals a perfect compliment to the NY-based artist, their ministerial spirit is also locked in to McClurkin's, making the fit perfect.

This Live in London and More project also marks the Gospel music publishing debut for Disney. McClurkin's company (Don Mac Music) recently signed a publishing deal with Seven Summits Music (BMI), a division of Disney Music Publishing.

Certainly this is an anticipated project. Certainly, it lives up to its advance billing. And most certainly, you will be blessed.

Producers: Donnie McClurkin, Kevin Bond
album release date: August 22, 2000
Verity Records

reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North

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