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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 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

(page 2)

Franklin said that in addition to a great voice, he needed to be sure that Owens had the emotional depth to perform the song.

"His experience with his father is shaky, not solid, and so I felt like it could come from a place of truth," Franklin told NPR.

And so, Owens -- who is managed by his mother, DeLonda -- was off to Dallas to record his parts for the song.

"Flying to Dallas for the first time was really a great experience," recalls Owens. "I was so excited on the plane, I didn't sleep. Me and Kirk had loads of fun, we had time to share and talk, we went to eat a few times, I visited his home and his family, we went ice skating, and we had just a ball in the studio.

"It never felt like work. Although it is really hard work Kirk made it fun. I learned so much about music just watching him work, he's a genius. He's a great writer and musician. It felt like I was dreaming because I was finally getting to know him after loving and following his music and then just recording with him I couldn't believe I was there! I felt like he was my big brother because we shared alot about our lives and both of our lives in a lot of ways was similar and we really just related and hit it off."

With all this attention, it seems a safe bet to think that Owens will start to get a lot of offers and opportunities will arise, but since his mom is his manager, she's helping to keep him grounded.

"We have already been busy just since the record came out -- radio interviews, stories with magazines, so I'm excited. My mother says the best is yet to come," says Owens.

"My mother says, put schoolwork first before anything because you have to know how to read a contract, speak well, count money, etc. She is very hard on me when it comes to my school and she keeps me focus and in line. She is also my manager so she keeps me going."

But, Owens hopes he'll get another chance to work with his hero, in addition to the concert dates with Franklin that are already on the books.

"Kirk has definitely said we will be working together again, in what way not sure yet, but like my song says 'to be continued' so we will see. That was definitely the highlight of my career, recording with Kirk … I was geeked!"

In the meantime, Owens isn't sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. In fact, he's working hard on his own music.

"I do have original songs," Owens says. "I was in the studio recording my own CD this year, and things got put on hold for several reasons, and I started traveling doing alot of singing and didn't finish, but next year I will be back in the studio to finish up my CD."

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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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