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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Music

Donovan Owens in the studio in Dallas, recording with Kirk Franklin.

11-year-old Milwaukee gospel singer gets chance of a lifetime


"Whew!!!!!!! The wait is over!! The CD was released and I can't explain how happy and excited I am for everyone to hear my song."

That's what 11-year-old Milwaukee singer Donovan Owens wrote on his My Space page blog Wednesday morning. You can hardly blame Owens, who went on to say he woke up tired that day.

That's because Tuesday was the day "The Fight of My Life," the ninth CD by Grammy-winning gospel star Kirk Franklin was released on Franklin's own Fo Yo Soul label. The disc features Owens on the track, "A Whole Nation," a song about fathers taking responsibility for their children.

"School was pretty normal," Owens tells OnMilwaukee.com, later in the day. "However, friends and other students knew about the song and they were hanging out with me more than usual. Some of my friends were invited to a listening party my mother threw for me at my home the night of the release and they just thought that was so cool. It was very hard for me to concentrate, I could barely sleep the night before the release, but I still managed to get things done at school."

But maintaining this balance is nothing new to young Owens, who attends Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa. In addition to singing in church, at parties and at weddings since he was 5, Owens has appeared with the Modjeska Youth Theatre and has been invited to sing by the likes of Pastor Marvin L. Winans in Detroit and Pastor DeAndre Patterson in Chicago.

He sang at the Full Gospel Baptist Convention in Milwaukee in 2006 and later that year he performed in Atlanta. He's shared stages with Franklin, Yolanda Adams and J. Moss.

But now that he's on a record with Franklin -- modern gospel's biggest star -- things have moved to another level. In fact, when Franklin appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday to talk about the record, the conversation quickly turned to Owens.

"I was just speechless," Franklin told NPR's Elizabeth Blair, explaining how Owens turned up backstage at a Franklin concert and offered to sing. "I couldn't believe this little kid singing like that. When I left him in Milwaukee, flying back to Dallas, the idea of this song came to my mind about using him as like the voice of a little Kirk, kind of talking about the stuff that I went through with not having a father."

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Talkbacks

Reader | Dec. 22, 2007 at 1:41 p.m. (report)

Great story. So good that jsonline wrote the same one two days later. Guess they get their ideas from onmilwaukee. Wonderful story either way. Congrats Donovan.

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mitchgat | Dec. 20, 2007 at 12:22 p.m. (report)

Very nice to see that OMC is making an effort to report more stories about Milwaukee's Black community!!! Nicely done!

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