When you first meet Duawne Starling, you may be taken by his powerful presence, but moments later you'll see something below the surface, a sincere, insightful, passionate person. His genuine zeal for life and his mission to use his many gifts are compelling. After distinguishing himself as one of the top supporting vocalist in music today, singing with the likes of Michael McDonald, Donnie McClurkin, Wynona Judd, Dolly Parton, CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Nicole C. Mullen and countless others, it was evident that it was time to launch his solo career. 'I've been in the music industry for ten years, but it was obvious that it wasn't time for me to step forward as a solo artist until now. I have been vocally ready for years, but when I assessed where I was spiritually and compared it to where I was vocally, the two didn't measure up. It's important to me to be whole in all areas, because the last thing this world needs is just another singer.' In order to pursue a sense of balance, Duawne felt impressed to attend Howard University's School of Divinity to increase his Biblical knowledge and his capacity to speak into the lives of others. Now, not only does Duawne have the vocal schooling of years in the studio and on the road, but he also has a Masters of Arts in Religious Studies, a convincing combination. 'I remember praying for a young man while doing a concert with Donnie McClurkin. I looked down off of the stage and remember seeing him get a breakthrough right there in the middle of the concert. I was changed that day and my heart was transformed into that of a minister.' 'I share the word God has given me through the songs that I write.' Duawne's music shares the triumphs and the struggles of his journey through reality. His simplistically profound lyrics impact audiences with their unprecedented honesty. 'My gift is God's tool. When I write, I try to speak the truth and never try to find another way to say the name 'Jesus.' I write from my experience in the hope I will enlighten, encourage and empower the listener.' The depth of Duawne's songwriting became evident with the release of his debut self-titled project, co-produced by Starling himself, as well as Drew Ramsey and Shannon Sanders (India Arie). There are many musical flavors in Duawne's music, showing his appreciation for all kinds of soulful stylings. In Duawne's voice, you hear the influences of the late Luther Vandross, as well as Stevie Wonder and Baby Face. But make no mistake, like the great voices of his youth, Duawne has a sound all his own. Duawne's journey began in Petersburg, Virginia where he lived until attending boarding school at age 13. 'As a child, my mother had the greatest influence on me. She was the one who brought Christ in the home and I don't know where I would be if she hadn't. I grew up listening to spirituals, Mahalia Jackson (my mother's favorite), my father's quartet and countless other musical artists. After my father died of cancer when I was seven, music became my freedom from reality.' In April of 1990, Duawne was in a youth service when he thought God was calling him to be a pastor. 'I was willing to give up my love of music and study to be a pastor when I heard God's voice clearly say 'Music is ministry.' I have been convinced and convicted ever since.' 'I just want to be all that I'm intended, a man of honor, a devoted husband, loving father and an uncompromising, affecting minister.'
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