Thursday, December 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Lisa Page Brooks joins Deborah Smith Pollard for U of M Dearborn Intro to Gospel class
During the event, Brooks discussed her musical upbringing as well as the role gospel music has played in her life, and gave a special performance for the audience.
Gospel Artist Lisa Page Brooks speaks at U of M Dearborn
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Hancock
As the former lead singer of the female gospel quartet, Witness, Brooks has been instrumental in the progression of contemporary gospel music and has continued to minister through song with the release of her third solo project, Strong, which was released in 2009.
Growing up in Detroit, Brooks says she was always surrounded by music and learned the craft of the art form at an early age. Her father, Warren Harris, was a member of The Monitors, a singing group that was signed to Motown Records and earned moderate success in the 1960s.
"As a young child, it was a common place for The Temptations and different members of groups from Motown Records to drop by my house," said Brooks. "I didn't know the magnitude of that when I was younger, but it's really something for me to have that heritage and that history."
Brooks followed in her father's footsteps by singing in her church choir and joining the family group, Voices of Eden, which was composed of her mother and sisters.
She recalled, as a child being made to rehearse for different programs she would perform at in the city, and was brought back to the times when she would be made to sing the religious hymn, "Touch me Lord Jesus," for family and friends.
"Back then I thought I was doing something, but I would have the words all mixed up," she said, laughing.
Recollecting her musical past, Brooks says she never thought she would be in the position she is in her life now.
"I never had a desire to be what has become of my music ministry. I just loved to sing," she said.
Brooks' passion for music led to her success with Witness, who debuted in 1986, and went on to garner numerous accolades including two Grammy nominations.
The audience at UM-D got a taste of her performing skills with the group when they watched a YouTube clip of Witness' performance on the 1991 Stellar Awards, in which they sang their hit song "Old Landmark."
Brooks also belted out an a cappella version of the gospel hymn "Great is thy faithfulness" and sang the current single from her new album, "I Want To Say Thank You." Her daughter also showed off her musical talent by singing a stirring rendition of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow."
Lisa Page Brooks' daughter and students from Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard's
Introduction to Gospel Music class at University of Michigan-Dearborn
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hancock
Brooks continues to spread her love of music throughout the city of Detroit with her church, Restoration Fellowship Church International, where she serves in a pastoral ministry with her husband, Pastor Michael Brooks, who is also a musician and founding member of the famed gospel group Commissioned.
She ended her lecture by emphasizing the importance of music as a universal tool and its ability to influence lives.
"When your passion is singing, and I prefer gospel music, because of my relationship with God, it touches the soul, it gives hope and it encourages you," said Brooks.
"It is so awesome to know that music and lyrics can do that to someone. I felt like I was made to do this, but to see now the importance of it and the history of it and to be a part of that history is just really remarkable. "
Brooks will be starring in the upcoming TJ Hemphill play, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" which will be running December 9-12 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.
Lisa Page Brooks
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hancock
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
She created one of the greatest gospel groups in history, The Caravans featuring Dorothy Norwood, Shirley Caesar, Cassietta George, James Cleveland, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and others. When she added most of these now legendary artists, they were relative unknowns. Pastor Caesar was still a teenager!
Each singer added a unique layer to the group that some have called the most star-studded ensemble ever assembled, recording such classics as "Lord, Keep Me Day by Day," ""Sweeping through the City," "Oh Mary Don't You Weep," and many more.
But Albertina Walker was far more than the Grammy, Stellar and other awards could ever indicate. Here are a few lessons from her spectacular life:
1) Share. We're all in this together, so there is enough room for everyone to shine. Ms.Walker seemed to know that no matter who was on the mic (Norwood, Cleveland, Ceasar, Andrews), if the audience was having a good time and if God was getting the glory, that was all that mattered.
2) Care. She began a scholarship foundation in 1988, and according to her website, she distributed more than $50,000 to students. How terrific for these young people to see someone do more than sing about reaching out to others!
3) Keep it moving. After the Caravan years, Ms. Walker when on to record great songs as a solo artist. including "I Can Go to God in Prayer" and "Spread the Word." But when the time was right in 2006, she and her musical friends, women of a certain age whom she still called "The Girls," went into the recording studio and got on the road one more time. The result was the hit CD, "Paved the Way."
This is a great day to celebrate her life and take a page from her lesson book!
Click here to hear hear the last hit, "Paved the Way."
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Interesting Facts About Detroit Gospel
Jimmy "JD" Dowell and Rev. Charles H. Nicks Jr.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Mid-late 1700’s The folk Negro spiritual emerges
the Fisk Jubilee Singers
(which later becomes “We Shall Overcome,” the Civil
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
“Surely, God Is Able,” “Packing Up,” “Up Above My Head,”
The Rev. Charles Nicks Jr. & St. James Adult Choir,
“Wonderful,” “Climbing up the Mountain,” “Salvation Is Free,” “I Really
Love the Lord,” “The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings
Flow),” "Peace Be Still"
Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Commissioned, Witness, Vickie Winans,
John. P. Kee/New Life, Vanessa Bell Armstrong
‘Open My Heart,” “We Fall Down, “Ordinary Just Won’t Do,” “Standard,” “Shake
Yourself Loose, “Show Up,” "He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Need"
Israel and New Breed, Byron Cage, Martha Munizzi, Shekinah Glory Ministry, J. Moss
I am sure to get to them!By the way: who ARE your favorites? Whoever they are, make sure you
share some of their music (legally) with someone you love today!--Dr. Deb
Friday, August 27, 2010
Every year around Father's Day, I start thinking about what a great Dad I was blessed to have and about how few songs there are that celebrate the good fathers that are around.
So, last year Gospelflava.com (www.gospelflava.com) and I created a list
of songs about fathers.
Songs about Fathers
Compiled by Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard and GospelFlava.com
Positive and/or Funny Songs about Fathers
“Memories (When Will I See You Again)" - Canton Spirituals
"The Living Years" - London Community Gospel Choir
“Darnell's Tribute” - The Williams Family Singers
“Just Like You” - Anthony Evans
“Thanks For Staying” - Da'Dra Crawford-Greathouse (from Bishop Jakes’ CD
"I'm A Daddy” - Derrick Hall & Co.
"Tribute To Dad” - Luther Barnes
"Daddy Come Home” - Jackson Southernaires
"Grandpa's Hands” - Gene Harris
"Father I'm Coming Home” - Canton Spirituals
"Let Me Be The Man My Daddy Was” - Chi-lites (non gospel)
"Dance With My Father” - Luther Vandross (non gospel)
"Color Him Father” - The Winstons (non gospel)
“There Is a King in You” Donald Lawrence and Company
"Daddy Can't Sing” - Vickie Winans
“This Is Your Grand Diddy”—Mr. Brown (from the play and movie Meet the Browns)
Other Songs about Fathers (Deadbeats, Absentee)
“Interlude”—Fred Hammond (on Kirk Franklin’s CD Hero)
“Still My Father” - Bryan Wilson
Did we miss any good ones? Let us know! Leave the name of the song under comments, please!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
With all of the applause for 88 year-old Betty White and her recent success nailing her roles in a Snickers commercial and on “Saturday Night Live,” I’ve been thinking about which senior in gospel music is keeping it fresh.; At the top of the list is Pastor Shirley Caesar. No, she’s not in her 80’s, but allegedly born in 1938, she has to be our leading example of how to maintain a major presence in gospel music for more than a minute.
In fact, the woman who began her gospel music career as Little Shirley once told me, “This is not just a ministry; it’s a career.” So while you never have to worry about her singing lyrics that are anything other than straight up gospel, this legend who has one of the most distinctive voices in traditional gospel music (“No Charge,” “Hold My Mule,” “Jesus”) can absolutely hold her own on
a contemporary lyric as well.
Her duet partners have included Kirk Franklin (“Caught Up”); Tonex (“I Know the Truth”), and J. Moss who joins her on the song “Nobody,” found on her latest CD “City Called Heaven.” Word has it that she will be featured on the newest CD from Aretha Franklin.
She’s still sparkles on television shows, such as “The Mo’Nique Show" and “Celebration of Gospel,” has lent her voice to movie scores (“The Fighting Temptations”) and just does gospel music proud whenever she appears.
Pastor Caesar also keeps it moving by adopting contemporary hairstyles so that she never looks dated and by wearing tastefully-selected classic yet stylish clothes..
Currently, she has her own record label, Shubel, is running an on-line talent contest (“I Got Nexx!”)and, of course, can be found on Facebook, the social networking site through which 500,000 voted to have Betty White host “Saturday Night Live.”
Yes, Betty White is funny and fierce. But Pastor Shirley has my vote for gospel music’s sizzling hot icon!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Kirk Franklin says it has to do with finally understanding and following "The Blueprint," God's timeless guide for how believers should live out their faith. Without being preachy or talking in "churchese," as he calls it, Franklin delivers a book that is insightful, thoughtful and even funny, one that covers topics such as how to negotiate the single life, sexuality and men, sexuality and women, and how marriage can become stronger over time.
As for the humorous side, the description of the homemade "Jheri curl" his great aunt gave him is just one of the lighter moments sprinkled throughout the book that give it a nice, balanced touch.
Far more than an autobiography and more captivating that most "easy step plans," Franklin's "The Blueprint" incorporates personal anecdotes as well as observations on contemporary life and Christianity.
For example, in describing what the "non-sexies" are, he tells us that while Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams, were off filming a cameo for the movie "The Gospel," he was at home doing Daddy duty. Initial thoughts about not being included in the movie led to the final realization that he was exactly where he needed to be, taking care of his children.
We don't get awards for "the non-sexies," Franklin writes. That is, generally, no one is handing out awards for those who spend time with family or who take communion to the sick and shut-in, but it is that work that shows what we value and who we are when the cameras are not on us.
And those are the kinds of insights that make Franklin's "The Blueprint" a book worth checking out, one that just could encourage readers to stick more closely to God's "Blueprint" in their own lives.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Pollard receives Susan B. Anthony Award for contributions to gender equality
Presented by the campus’ Commission for Women, the award recognizes a member of the UM-Dearborn community who has made significant contributions to gender equality.
Pollard has been a role model of the Susan B. Anthony motto, “Failure is impossible,” according to those who nominated her for the award.
Her many academic, professional, scholarly and personal achievements include being a former director of UM-Dearborn’s African and African-American Studies Program, co-sponsoring campus events and teaching the course “Black Women in Literature, Film and Music” for the Women’s and Gender Studies program at UM-Dearborn.
The Library of Michigan In 2008 named her book, “When the Church is your Party,” one of 20 Michigan Notable Books. Pollard’s book is a collection of essays on topics in gospel music, both in Detroit and on the national level, including praise and worship, women gospel music announcers and “holy hip hop.”
In addition to her academic role at UM-Dearborn, Pollard is well known for her gospel music program on Detroit radio powerhouse WJLB-FM. In 2005 she was named Gospel Announcer of the Year in the annual Stellar Awards.
Last month, Pollard received UM-Dearborn’s Distinguished Service Award at the campus’s annual Honor Scholars and Faculty Awards ceremony.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
In my book chapter entitled "Muscle Tee Shirts, Tight Jeans and Cleavage," Tracey Artis of "I Hear Music in the Air" music promotions and the annual conference of the same name had this to say when I interviewed her:
"There is a general trend to be “free style” rather than dressed for church. But if a Yolanda Adams is singing a ballad, I prefer to see her in a gown. When you begin to talk about the church, there is a standard wardrobe that is not offensive. I don’t want to see [female] artists in pantsuits. If you are before God’s people in church, remember I’m from the church; that’s my experience, so come before me with a dress or skirt on."
But with so many on stage, in the choir, and in the audience wearing less conservative clothing--pantsuits, jeans, thigh high skirts, belly shirts, and push up bras--there are clearly those who think differently from Ms. Artis.
Here is what Tina Campbell of Mary Mary said during an interview with National Public Radio (April 2009) about how some people see her and her sister Erica:
“Sometimes, people think we’re a little bit sexy. I don’t have a problem with that,” she says. “I would like to think that I’m sexy. I have a husband who I would like to think that every time he sees me. Truth be known, I’m a woman. I would love to be appealing to men. It is not my endeavor [to] entice, to cause anyone to lust.”
Believe it or not, this whole discussion of who is and what is sexy is not new to gospel. Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, Sam Cooke, and even Mahalia Jackson had fans who found them appealing. And to paraphrase Steve Harvey, "If Christians aren't sexy, where are all of these little Christians coming from?"
So, how much is enough and how much is too little when it comes to attire? And can the gospel and sexy attire really go hand in hand? My Sunday morning radio neighbor, Pastor Marvin L. Winans, says no: "You can't sell sex and Jesus."
If gospel artists dress too conservatively, will their young audience members tune them out? If some see their clothing as too sexy, will they lose their core church following?
Or should we make this easy and tell all of the singers put on a church robe and call it a day? LOL!
What do YOU think?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Dr. Mattie Moss Clark found initial fame as a director and songwriter with the Southwest Michigan State Choir, reportedly the first Church of God in Christ state choir to be organized (1959). Later, she influenced hundreds of artists, including her daughters, the famed Clark Sisters, in her role as recording artist, record producer, and head of the music department for the entire Church of God in Christ.
Elma Lois Hendrix Parham founded the Community Youth Ensemble, established her own music publishing company, and owned Elma and Carl's House of Music on Owen Street in Detroit, a record and music store that became a meeting place for gospel fans and artists. Among those whose music she published was Mattie Moss Clark.
Lucylle Lemon served as a choir director at the New Bethel Baptist Church and founded the Lucylle Lemon Gospel Chorus, reportedly the first gospel community choir organized in Detroit (1943). Within the chorus were smaller groups with unique names like the Lemonaires and the Lemon Specials. Among her most famous members were Delores and David Winans, AKA Mom and Pop Winans, who met each other as teenagers while members of the Lemon Gospel Chorus.
And you thought "The Big Three" only referred to the auto giants!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
For the millions of fans of Pastor Marvin Sapp, March 16 is the release day for his latest CD featuring more great music from "the preacher who happens to sing," as he puts it. I--and a couple thousand others--were present when he recorded this CD in his hometown at the end of 2009. This first single is already a favorite....Enjoy the video!
Friday, March 5, 2010
Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was an icon for many and a hero of mine. Here is why: while she respected the past, she also believed in moving forward musically. During Women's History Month, let's remember this great choir director, composer, singer, record producer and vocal coach!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Triumph Church-East Campus was host to a double gospel celebration last year. The facility that used to be the old Second Ebenezer church became party central for fans and supporters of DETROIT homegrown favorites Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard and Byron Cage.
By Detroit Gospel.com | Published 10/28/2009 | Event Coverage |
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard with Byron Cage and FM98 contest winner
Dr. Deb, as she is affectionately called, has a long and varied resume of accomplishments and achievements, but she is most widely known as the melodious voice that blesses the airwaves on Sunday mornings from 6AM to 10AM on FM98 WJLB. The rest of the week, WJLB kicks out the R&B and Hip Hop jams, but come Sunday morning, Dr. Deb kicks out her own "Strong Inspirations" that appeal to both young and old. A packed house welcomed Dr. Deb and joined her in celebrating 15 years as host of Detroit's #1-rated gospel show.
Winners from Dr. Deb's Sunday morning show were also invited to a special VIP reception prior to the show. Dr. Deb's mom and husband were also on hand to share her special night.
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard with Byron Cage and FM98 contest winners at VIP reception
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard with her mother and husband at VIP reception
In keeping with Dr. Deb's spirit of excellence, the evening's celebrations began on time with Stellar-Award nominated, God's Little Soldiers, International, under the directions of Motor City Praise Records founder, James Render. The young men got the party started by ministering in song and scripture and the audience was on their feet.
God's Little Soldiers International
One of the things that Dr. Deb is known for is meeting her audience where they are and ministering to them in a language that they can relate to. She has embraced Gospel rap and FM98 WJLB listeners have responded in kind. Dr. Deb shared the ministry of gospel rap and hip hop throughout the evening as God's Army, Kiwi, Mahogony Jones, and DJ Fingers rocked the house and kept the party going strong.
DetroitGospel.com writer, TaQuinda Johnson (T. Marie) and Gospel artist, Kiwi
Dr. Deb, who also teaches at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, had 39 of her 40 "Introduction to Gospel Music" students in attendance. The "Field Trip" was a sure 'nuf education in gospel, as Byron Cage took us to school and provided a crash course in "Advanced Sing Your Behind-Off" Gospel music.
Byron showed clips from the DVD of his new release. The energy from the live recording was evident in the energy that was generated in just watching the video clips. It was almost as if we were back at the live recording as those in attendance sang, clapped, praised and danced. A person in the audience was overheard saying, "there's not a bad track on that project!" and most rushed out to purchase their copy and get it signed at the evening's end.
Byron made a special point of encouraging Detroiters and letting them know that God is "Faithful to Believe." He went on to say that he had written that song for Detroiters and closed out the evening by singing the title cut live with several back-up singers from the original live recording, including Detroiters Ron Kelly, Peggy James, Suzanne Young and Charles Curry.
Others gospel industry personnel present, to show their support for Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard and Byron Cage, were Darius Twyman, LaShell Griffin, Larry Calahan, Upper Room owners Pam and Alonzo Dover and Triumph Church's Pastor Solomon Kinloch, Jr.
DetroitGospel.com owner, Mary Crosby; producer, Renee'; and writers, Brenda Underwood, and TaQuinda Johnson were also present, and wouldn't have missed celebrating with two of their favorite Detroiters for the world.
If you haven't already picked up Byron's latest project (his 6th), run, don't walk to get it. Every song on it is a home run, and with guest artists Karen Clark Sheard, Marvin Winans, and Tye Tribbett, Byron has pulled out all of the stops. The song writing, the production, the energy, and the singing are "off the chain!" Byron's voice is a gift from God and to have it showcased on a project like this one is a gift to anyone who loves good gospel music.
But don't take our word for it, watch the video and/or listen to snippet below...
DetroitGospel.com joins in celebrating two phenomenal Detroiters and their accomplishments. We pray many more years for Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard on the airwaves of Detroit, and many more successful projects from "The Prince of Praise," Minister Byron Cage. We love you both!
For more information on Dr. Deborah Smith Pollardvisit www.fm98wjlb.com.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Bible & Book Store
THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2010
Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III
BOOK SIGNING at 10AM
Join us this Saturday, at 10AM to meet
Bishop Walker and get an autographed copy of his latest book,
SEMINAR at 12 Noon
Join Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard,
host and producer of the top-rated "Strong Inspirations" on FM 98 WJLB-Detroit,
as she celebrates the history of Black sacred music.
13743 Woodward Ave., Highland Park, MI 48203
Thursday, February 4, 2010
A friend who is the music director (MD) of a secular station said to me recently, "Your gospel artists act worse than my secular artists."
After my stunned silence, she explained that of course, performers and label reps from both "sides" of the music world always ask to be placed in rotation. But lately, she had seen what I call "gospel artists gone wild."
She spoke of gospel music folks sending multiple, snarky emails. "Obviously you don't know who I am" is what one person wrote when their artist's song was not placed in the line up. If this MD really knew what she was doing, the writer continued, she would have this award winning gospel singer in rotation. (Never mind that the MD had never heard of the performer or the award in question...)
There were threats of retaliation of various kinds from other artists and reps if the MD failed to give them a slot on the regular play list, and some even tried to pressure the MD's colleagues at other stations into making the case for their inclusion.
Another MD told me that artists tried various intimidation tactics which, while they were to no avail, did nothing to reflect individuals who were representing Christ. Hence my friend's comment.
Most of us would love to have the kind of success that gives us exposure to the mainstream. Generally, that means more opportunities to witness on a grander scale and, if the truth be told, access to more revenues. But HOW we seek to gain that exposure says everything about who we are and who we represent.
So, by all means, ask to be considered for secular airplay. There is nothing wrong with great aspirations. But ask without threatening, insulting, or resorting to any form of intimidation. (And please don't offer money or drugs. That is not only immoral; it's illegal!)
Remember WHOSE you are and that every time you fire off an email, leave a voice mail laced with borderline profanity, or act as if you are entitled to airplay on the secular stations, you are witnessing, but not in a way that honors Christ.
Please resist the urge to do anything that would make a music director say, "Your gospel artists act worse than my secular artists."
Deborah Smith Pollard, Ph.D., is the host and producer of "Strong Inspirations", a weekly Gospel radio show airing Sundays, 8 to 10 AM on FM 98 WJLB in Detroit, Michigan, won the prestigious Stellar Award for "Announcer Of The Year" in 2005, and authored the book "When The Church Becomes Your Party". Smith Pollard writes "Static Free" for GOSPELflava.com, a regularly-appearing column in which she addresses all and any matters relating to Gospel radio.
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard discusses "When The Church Becomes Your Party" on Detroit Radio WDRJ via Chocolate Pages Broadcast Podcast
Monday, February 1, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Gospel Music: A Changing Beat--A Timeless Message
Discussion of the history of Black sacred music and book signing
Dickson's Bible Bookstore
13743 Woodward Avenue (1 Block north of the Davision Fwy)
Highland Park, MI 48203
Jeff Miller is in demand as a motivational/keynote speaker, and is the author of the 2008, inspirational audio book: "Up From the Under, What We Should Do Next."
Jammin II Inc., is the TV production company responsible for the hit series: "Transition" and "The Edge with Jeffrey Miller"; the documentary, “What’s Right, Detroit?” And the 90-minute feature: "Jamaica, Paradise Unrealized." Miller's provocative shows, "Transition" and "The Edge…" reached more than 1 million Michigan homes weekly, (1990-2002) on a distribution network combining broadcast with cable.
Miller’s TV productions have earned two Emmy awards, two Cable Ace’s and more than ten nominations for outstanding programming achievements, from NATAS and the National Cable Association.
Jeff Miller, executive producer, principal writer and host of Jammin II Inc.'s productions, is also a dynamic radio personality and former columnist for a Metro Detroit newspaper syndicate.
Miller’s work from production and distribution, to marketing and talent, has made him an ‘in demand’ public, keynote and motivational speaker.
About Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard enjoys an exciting dual career as Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and host/producer of “Strong Inspirations,” a contemporary gospel music program that has been heard on FM 98 WJLB-Detroit since 1994.
Pollard, who has lectured internationally on gospel music, has published articles in both academic and popular journals. Her latest research is featured in her award-winning book, When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music (Wayne State U. Press, 2008), which was named a “2009 Notable Book” by the Library of Michigan. She also has her work featured in the anthology: More than the Blues (University of Illinois Press) and Rhythms of the Atlantic (U of M Press, scheduled for 2009).
“Dr. Deb” was named “Gospel Announcer of the Year" during the 2005 Stellar Awards (called “The Grammys” of Gospel). An Emmy Award-winning producer (for “GodSounds” which aired on WDIV-TV Channel 4), Pollard has also produced events, including the McDonald's GospelFest and the Motor City Praisefest, since the 1980s.