Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard
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American Voices: Gospel Master Session with Kim Burrell
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard is Professor of English Literature and Humanities at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She earned her doctorate from Michigan State University where her focus was American Studies. Besides her courses in English literature and African American culture, she teaches a popular class, Introduction to Gospel Music, every fall at UM-Dearborn where she has held several administrative positions and won two of the highest awards the campus bestows: the Distinguished Service Award and the Susan B. Anthony Award.
A fixture on Detroit radio for three decades, she is currently host/producer of "Rhythm and Praise with Deborah Smith Pollard," a contemporary gospel music program heard Sunday mornings, 10 a.m.-noon, on MIX 92.3 FM Detroit. From the early 1980s through 2005, she was the co-producer of McDonald's Gospelfest and the Motor City Praisefest in Detroit, festivals that attracted thousands of fans each year.
Dr. Pollard, who has lectured nationally and internationally on gospel music--from Hawaii to New York, and from Japan to South Africa and England--has published articles in both academic and popular journals. The Library of Michigan named her book When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music (Wayne State U. Press) a "2009 Notable Book." The chapters cover praise and worship in the urban church, the changing dress code in the Black church, the gospel musical stage play, women gospel announcers, and Christian rap.
Her research has also been featured in several anthologies, including Black Women and Music: More than the Blues (University of Illinois, 2007), Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World: Rituals and Remembrances (University of Michigan, 2010), and Christian Congregational Music - Performance, Identity and Experience (Ashgate, 2013). She is at work on a new book manuscript to cover such topics as contemporary gospel music and the movies, lyrics related to sex, the image of the father in gospel music, as well as liturgical dance and mime.
In 2006, she was named "Gospel Announcer of the Year" during the Stellar Awards, called "The Grammys of Gospel."