I’ve been preparing you all for this next interview! I CHOOSE GOSPEL finally got the chance to talk with BET Sunday Best Season 3 Runner-up, Elder Goldwire McLendon. Making history by being the oldest in the competition at 79 years of age, he wooed us with his velvety tone and his youthful persona. It was amazing, shocking and exciting to watch Elder McLendon go so far in the competition. Now, Elder McLendon is making history again, at 81 years young he is the newest signee to Music World Gospel (headed by Mathew Knowles), making him the Oldest American Contemporary Solo Artist signed to a record label!
I was nervous about speaking with him as we were supposed to bring you this interview last week, but suddenly during Easter weekend Elder McLendon lost his son. After a reschedule, I was happy to hear a spirited and charismatic voice on the line; one that instantly became familiar and settled my nerves. The Best of Elder Goldwire McLendon will be released on April 24th. The album does not deviate from the Music World Gospel-Sunday Best “formula” as it features rearranged and remastered tracks produced by Stanley Brown. And since it’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Elder McLendon, Stanley Brown did a wonderful job capturing that traditional sound with a contemporary spin, that we grew to love from Elder McLendon. It is my pleasure to introduce to some and present to others The Best of Elder Goldwire McLendon…
ICG: How has life been for you since becoming the 1st runner up on BET’s Sunday Best?
EGMc: Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’s happening to me! It’s a joyous adventure, very, very joyous. I just stop sometimes and say ‘Lord is this for me?! You did this for me?!’ They told me in 2010 that this is my season, so this is awesome!
ICG: I was listening to your album and you are keeping it traditional, yet there are some youthful and contemporary elements as well, who are some of your musical influences?
EGMc: Oh my that goes back a lot, James Cleveland was, and going back Andre Crouch, The Walter Hawkins Singers, The Martin Singers (also known as The Roberta Martin Singers), and The Ward Singers from here in Philadelphia, they were inspirational to me. And The Hummingbirds (The Gospel Hummingbirds), I can’t leave them out!
ICG: When you got the call from Mathew Knowles to sign you to his Music World Gospel label, what was your reaction to that phone call?
EGMc: Oh my Lord, that was awesome! My daughter was on the phone and she was telling me everything and she’s holding her mouth and I’m holding my mouth, we wanted to scream! We couldn’t holler because we live in an apartment and the people would be upset ya know! (laughs) But we carried on anyway!
ICG: Mathew Knowles brought in Stanley Brown to produce this album, what was the experience like working in the studio recording your debut album?
EGMc: It was awesome just being in his presence again. You know he was at Season 3 in New Orleans (as the musical director on Sunday Best), and the music was just phenomenal. I can’t express how much the music…I tell people you need to hear the background music that I was under; it makes you want to sing!
ICG: Music World Gospel has created a successful “formula” for its Sunday Best brand, with that backing support, what are your expectations for the album?
EGMc: My expectation is to minister in song. The Lord called me to the ministry; of course I was raised in Holiness all my life. My interest is to minister to people, those who are perplexed and don’t know which way to go, at the end of their rope. Something can be done through the words of song and melody that will enhance their joy, you know just lift them up. That’s my desire!
ICG: So Season 5 of Sunday Best is right around the corner, what advice would you give to the future contestants of the show?
EGMc: (in a serious tone) I try to share; you’ve got to live what you sing about. And don’t forget to pray to God; because He wants it back, like Leviticus says, He wants your sacrifice, your praise. If you do that God will orchestrate you, (now preaching) He will direct you. He will lead you; He will ANOINT YOU…because of your faithfulness done to Him. I will say that to them, make sure you pray a lot.
*there’s a pause as I attempt to find a collection plate to pass around, because he said that*
ICG: In the wake of your first solo album release, you recently lost your son, how are and your family doing? How is God bringing you through this time?
EGMc: Well, they are doing fine, we are doing well. It was a shock, Easter Sunday when we heard it, but then the spirit began to deal with me…don’t let this pull you down…because you have a duty to perform. Every now and then when I dwell on him, I get real emotional, but then I let it go. Because when I dwell on it to long, it hurts. Yes, so the Lord dealt with me on that, and He gives me that peace and that praise. I begin to praise the Lord and I thank Him for the experience of having my son with me from his birth until this past Easter Sunday.
ICG: Any final thoughts or remarks you would like to say to your fans?
EGMc: (singing) Keep your focus on Jesus! Time is winding up, oh my! (laughs)
There you have it folks! I really enjoyed speaking with Elder Goldwire McLendon. Keep his family in prayer and make sure to support his ministry on April 24th: The Best of Elder Goldwire McLendon will be available in stores and online everywhere. I had the privilege to listen to the album and it is a wonderful treat to hear him again. My faves are “The Battle Is The Lords” and “How Great Thou Are”, superb vocal delivery, passionate and filled with intent. Below you can listen to “Jesus Be A Fence Around Me”, the first single from the album.