Donnie McClurkin's early life was marred by tragedy, including the loss of his younger brother and a family history of domestic violence and abuse. He found solace in the church, particularly its music, and formed the McClurkin Singers while still a teenager. He went on to release his self-titled major-label debut in 1996, featuring the hit "Stand." The album caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey and won him a Grammy. McClurkin continues to record and also works in film and television.