This Week on American Black Journal:

Gospel radio host, historian Dr. Deborah Smith Pollards gives history lesson on Detroit’s gospel influence

In the soulful landscape of gospel music, Detroit has long been considered a major influencer, leaving its mark on the genre’s rich history and evolution. The city’s cultural and spiritual tapestry helped to nurture the growth of gospel since its beginning. Few know that history better than gospel music radio host and historian Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard.  

A revered figure in gospel, Pollard has graced the airwaves for three decades as the host and producer of “Rhythm and Praise with Deborah Smith Pollard” on MIX 92.3 FM Detroit, where she shares the latest in classic and contemporary gospel music.  

Pollard also taught Introduction to Gospel Music at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she is a professor emerita of English literature and humanities. She has co-produced McDonald’s Gospelfest and the Motor City Praisefest, lectured on gospel across the globe, and authored “When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music,” a Library of Michigan 2009 Notable Book. 

On the heels of PBS’s “GOSPEL” docuseries by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “American Black Journal” delves into Detroit’s role in shaping the gospel art form. Pollard provides a history lesson on the origins of gospel music and how it has evolved into the contemporary sounds we hear from artists today. 

Darius Twyman discusses Detroit’s major influence on traditional and contemporary gospel music

Aretha Franklin, The Winans, Mattie Moss-Clark and The Clark sisters. The list of gospel artists with roots in Detroit is long and continues to grow. From gospel music’s beginnings to the contemporary sounds of today, Detroit’s gospel artists have influenced the genre. Few have seen first-hand the impact Detroit has on the genre than gospel artist Darius Twyman.

“Gospel music in the city of Detroit is the foundation of (gospel) music across the country. Why? Because gospel music was birthed here,” Twyman told Detroit Performs host Satori Shakoor and BridgeDetroit journalist Orlando Bailey.  

In conjunction with PBS’ “GOSPEL” docuseries, Shakoor and Bailey sat down with Twyman during an episode of “Detroit Performs: Live From Marygrove” to talk about his musical start, Detroit’s major influence on the genre, and the meaning behind his original song “Made It Over.” Plus, watch Twyman’s music video for “Made It Over,” produced at Second Ebenezer Church.

Born in Detroit, Twyman’s gospel music career kicked off in the late 1990s with releases such as “I’ve Got a Job,” “Moving Up,” and “Coming Soon.” Twyman has performed alongside other national gospel acts, including Dorinda Clark Cole and the late James Moore. He’s sung background vocals for Diana Ross, Kid Rock and George P Funk Clinton, just to name a few. In 2020, Twyman announced the creation of his independent label, Character Music, with his first single off the label titled “We Are Family.” Twyman’s latest release is “Tell Me Where.”

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.