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Meet Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard

Intimate Conversation with Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard

Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard, who enjoys a dual career as a university professor and gospel radio host, recently added the title “author” to her list of accomplishments.

Her book, When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music, published in April of 2008 by Wayne State University Press, focuses on such topics as praise and worship music, the changing dress code in the Black Church, and Christian rap. Other work by her has been published in both academic and popular outlets, including Womanist Theory and Research, College Language Association Journal, College English Association Journal, The Arkansas Review, Gospel Today, and The Detroit Free Press.

Intimate Conversation with Ella Curry, EDC Creations and Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard discussing her journey in publishing and music world.

EDC: Finish this sentence: I am Powerful...
DSP: I am Powerful because of my own prayer life and because of the love, support and prayers of my family and friends.

EDC: Where are you from?
I was born in Ecorse, MI, but I have lived in Detroit proper most of my life.

EDC: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
Since my books is non-fiction, I don’t have characters per se, but I do have two individuals in my chapter on women gospel announcers (From Princess Premium Stuff and Miss Mandy to Holy Boldness: The Impact of Women Gospel Announcers) whom I admire because of their commitment to God and community, their verbal skills, and their ability to sell anything to anybody. Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg and Irene Johnson Ware ruled the airwaves in Detroit, MI, and Mobile, AL, respectively and subsequently became national radio icons. Steinberg had been inducted into three halls of fame by the time she passed away and Johnson Ware has received national citations from

EDC: What makes your book stand out and would make a reader pick it up?
DSP: My book covers a range of issues and new contemporary forms of gospel music: praise and worship in the urban church, gospel musical stage plays, the changing dress code in the Black Church and in gospel music, women gospel announcers, and Christian rap. Some of these elements are quite controversial, but I write that if you get past the new outer exterior of these forms, you will find that they rest on the same Biblical principles that have always been the foundation of Christianity.

I hope readers will also appreciate the 32 photographs that are in the book, including Kirk Franklin, the Clark Sisters, Pastor Marvin Winans, The Cross Movement, Vickie Winans and Donnie McClurkin. My hope is that readers will pick it up, read the chapters, and then think about the various sides of each issue I present in the book, especially the ones about which they have strong or conflicted feelings.

EDC: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
DSP: I hope readers will gain an appreciation for the range of opinions that surround contemporary gospel music, even something as completely church based as praise and worship music.

EDC: What is the one most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
DSP: I’ve learned that writing the book is challenging; getting the word out about the books is even more challenging!

EDC: What can we expect from you in the future?
DSP: There are other aspects of contemporary gospel music I am currently researching, including liturgical dance, mime, gospel and the movies, and the racier side of urban contemporary music.

Deborah Smith Pollard, Ph.D
Author: When the Church Becomes Your Party
Educator: Wayne State University Press
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