Calling themselves the Seven Singing Shepherds, they are basing their performances on the seven last words of Christ. The Bible's New Testament and Christian traditions say these were the words that Jesus Christ spoke as he was dying on the cross. The Seven Singing Shepherds include McClurkin, Smokie Norful, Marvin Sapp, Beverly Crawford, Rance Allen, Walter Hawkins, and the Shekinah Glory Ministry. Chicago radio station Inspiration 1360-WGBB-AM, is sponsoring the concert on Friday at 7:30 pm at the Chicago Theater, 175 N. State. Tickets are available at the Chicago Theatre box office at 312.462-6306, www.inspiration1390.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, or by phone at 312-559-1212. Donnie McClurkin Known world-wide as the tall raspy tenor who commands your attention with his powerful and rich sounding vocals, Donnie McClurkin, has more than proven that he's is far more than a gospel singer. The man behind the platinum and gold selling CD(s) is an amazing songwriter that not only have penned chart topping tunes like, "Stand" and "We Fall Down," but has also worn the hat of producer on his projects. His knack for nailing songs that others can identify with and serving it up with a compelling vocal delivery, has helped McClurkin to carve out a spot in the hearts of millions. His latest release, Psalms Hymns & Spiritual Songs, is a mixture of Contemporary, Traditional Hymns & Praise and Worship Gospel music. Highlights include: "I Call You Faithful (I Call You Holy)" the rousing praise and worship jam that hits right at the heart of Sunday mornings. It was introduced by McClurkin earlier this year on a national TV broadcast. Also included, a devotional church medley of "We've Come This Far By Faith,", "I Will Trust In The Lord", and "I Love To Praise Him." A melodic and spoken word medley dubbed "Languages" gives McClurkin the opportunity to expound on his rousing success in distant countries, performing tracks in Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, and ultimately culminating in a Dutch composition, "God Is A Good God." Between songs, McClurkin intersperses anecdotes about these far-flung locations. An ordained minister, McClurkin was honored last year at both the 15th Annual Trumpet Awards and the NARAS Recording Academy – NY Chapter. He performed at the star-studded "Dream Concert" held at Radio City Music Hall, fundraiser for Dr. Martin Luther King's monument in Washington, DC. He's also won several Grammy, Dove, BET, Soul Train and NAACP Image Awards, statuettes and plaques. McClurkin has created soundtracks for "Lady Killer's" (New Line), "The Prince of Egypt" (DreamWorks) and "The Goofy Movie" (Disney). From the concert stage to the big and small screen, fans have also seen this gospel crooner shine in cameo appearances on UPN's "The Parkers", "Girlfriends", "Meet The Browns" (Tyler Perry Paramount Pictures, "The Fighting Temptations" starring Cuba Gooding, Jr and Beyonce' Knowles and a myriad of Award Shows. However, it was in Sony Screen Gems/ Rainforest Films "The Gospel," starring Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba, that McClurkin made his debut in a character role. Smokie Norful
Chicago pastor "Smokie" Norful, Jr. is an American gospel singer and pianist, best known for his 2002 album I Need You Now and his 2004 release, Nothing Without You, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2005. Norful, the son of an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas but grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He has always been deeply involved in his father's church especially through gospel music.
Smokie's wife Carla had been told by the doctor that medical complications would prevent them from ever having children, and yet they had a son, Tré. He was born during the sessions for his first album, and was the inspiration for the song "I Need You Now." He was their miracle child but then a little over a year later, Carla found out she was expecting again, and they had a son, Ashton, in early 2004, who inspired "God Is Able." He was another miracle in the Norful's lives.
Norful studied at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, served an assistant pastorate at Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Chicago and founded Victory Cathedral Worship Center, one of the fastest growing churches in the Bolingbrook-Romeoville area.
Marvin Sapp was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI where he has based his JOY Ministries outreach. Sapp debuted on the music scene with legendary gospel group Commissioned in the early '90s after Keith Staten left for solo work. He recorded the Commissioned albums "Number 7" and "Matters of the Heart" with members Fred Hammond, Mitchell Jones, Mike Williams, and Karl Reid. After Hammond and Williams left the group, Sapp recorded the group's final album in 1996 called "Irreplaceable Love."
He then began his own solo career with a self-titled album in 1996. His first album reunited him with former Commissioned band mate Fred Hammond, who produced the LP. Sapp's sophomore effort, "Grace & Mercy," appeared in May 1997, followed two years later by "Nothing Else Matters." After a short absence from the music scene, he reappeared under contract at Versity Records and released the song "I Believe" on the WOW Gospel 2002 album, followed by the album "I Believe" later in 2002. "Diary of a Psalmist" appeared in 2003, "Be Exalted" in 2005, and "Thirsty" in 2007
Rance Allen is one of a dozen children from a church-active family that nearly filled the small Goodwill Church of God In Christ (COGIC) the family attended. Both grandparents were pastors and Rance's mother played piano and guitar. Rance began singing and preaching at age five, then learned the piano at age seven to accompany his singing. Rance Allen and his brothers, Thomas and Steve, perform in a group known as "The Rance Allen Group" which was founded in Detroit in the 1960s. Rance has fronted the band with his soulful, soaring vocals ever since. The traditionally trained black gospel group was the first traditional gospel group to incorporate rock, jazz, and soul into their music. They were harbingers for the contemporary Christian music movement popularized in the late '70s by Andrae Crouch, Amy Grant, and the Winans. The Rance Allen Group scored a Top 30 R&B hit in 1979 with "I Belong to You," one of two Stax singles that year to make the charts. The group's recordings for Gospel Truth, Capitol, and Stax proved quite popular among gospel audiences, and had some success attracting soul fans as well. Rance Allen continued singing, recording, and performing with his group up into the next millennium, releasing Miracle Worker with the Rance Allen Group in spring 2000.
Beverly Crawford is an African-American gospel vocalist who is most well-known for singing with the New Life Singers on Bobby Jones Gospel on Black Entertainment Television (BET). Her most well-known songs are "Higher in the Lord", "Praise Jehovah", and "Run to the Water."
Born in the early 1960s in Gainesville, Florida, she is one of seven children born to a pastor. She began singing at the age of three and joined her sisters as part of the Camp Sisters. Being impressed with the sisters, Bobby Jones invited them to sing on his show, and after about a couple of visits, he invited Beverly to join his group, New Life. Beverly stayed on the show for 6 years, where she was a favorite every week. She began her solo career in 1995 with the release of Jesus, Precious King on Warner Alliance Records (now defunct), followed 3 years later with Now That I'm Here, which includes the hit title song and "Just As Soon (I'll Be Shouting). The latter album was nominated for a Grammy in 1999.
Walter Hawkins has launched and/or inspired the careers of many of today's biggest Gospel Stars through his work as a songwriter, producer, singer, musician, and as Co-Founder and Spiritual Leader of The Edwin Hawkins & Walter Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar/Love Fellowship. In his childhood, his father didn't go to church, so they listened to a mixture of music like country western, quartets; the Staple Singers, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand and more. In terms of his song writing, his family's music history is greatly incorporated. Walter uses the up tempo excitement of Latin music, the subtleties of jazz scatting, the splendor of classical string, the wisdom of harmonica, the youthful energy of hip hop and the intensity of dance music.
He currently lives with his two sisters and spends his spare time reading the Bible on his 20-acre estate outside of Oakland, California. During his career he has been able to reflect on the many blessings that God has given him and he in turn has given to the world. He says of his fast-paced life, "It has been extremely rewarding to see how much I have blessed people's lives. Sometimes, I am taxed, tired and overwhelmed…but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Shekinah Glory Ministry
The Shekinah Glory Ministry is a praise-and-worship collective connected with Valley Kingdom Ministries International, a non-denominational church based in the Chicago area, and includes a cast of musicians, psalmists, dancers, and singers. Shekinah has released a trio of CDs on Valley Kingdom's own Kingdom Records imprint, 2001's Praise Is What I Do, 2004's Live, and 2007's Jesus as well as a pair of DVDs, 2003's Praise Is What I Do and 2005's Live. This group of 21st Century Psalmists and Minstrels have appeared with such renowned artists as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ, Marvin Sapp, Beverly Crawford, Albertina Walker and Vickie Winans and others.
Shekinah Glory's worship style incorporates a unique variety of ballads, contemporary, and prophetic selections. The ministry has traveled nationally and internationally, where local praise teams ultimately are being taught and are singing the songs of Shekinah Glory.
Donnie McClurkin and the 7 Singing Shepherds