Deborah Smith Pollard, Ph.D.

Professor of English Literature and Humanities
Deborah Smith Pollard
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
Language, Culture, and the Arts
3081 College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Building | 4901 Evergreen Road | Dearborn, MI 48128

Teaching Areas:

African & African American Studies, English, Humanities

Research Areas:

African American Literature, Contemporary Gospel Music

Biography and Education


Ph.D. Michigan State University; M.A.T. Wayne State University; B.A. Michigan State University.

Current Research

"The Impact and Legacy of Edwin Hawkins and the Game-Changing Gospel Song `Oh Happy Day'"


Selected Publications


When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music. Detroit: Wayne State UP, May, 2008. 240 pp.

Book Chapters and Articles in Referred Journals

"`All I See Is Your Booty and Cleavage' Sex and the Contemporary Gospel Song." Journal of the Society for American Music, November 2021.

"‘Praise Is What We Do.’" Readings in African American Church Music and Worship, James Abbington, editor. Chicago: GIA Publications. June 2014: 491-519.

"‘Praise Is What We Do’: The Rise of Praise and Worship Music in the Black Church in the US.” In Christian Congregational Music - Performance, Identity and Experience. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013. 

“The Women Have on All Their Clothes: Reading the Texts of Holy Hip Hop.” In Mamadou Diouf and Ifeoma Nwankwo, ed. Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World: Rituals and Remembrances.  University of Michigan Press:  2010: 55-78.

"Motherlove, Initiation, Poverty, and Pride: Teaching "Getting the Facts of Life" by Paulette Childress White and "The Sky Is Gray" by Ernest Gaines." The CEA Forum Winter/Spring 2009: 38.1.  Published online.

“That Text, That Timbre: Introducing Gospel Announcer Edna Tatum.” Linda F. Williams and Eileen Hayes, eds., Black Women and Music: More than the Blues. University of Illinois, 2007: 93-118. 

 “Edna Tatum: Gospel Announcer and Narrator in Performance.” Womanist Research & Theory3.2/4.1 (Spring/Summer 2001/2002): 34-45.

“Gospel Announcers (Disc Jockeys): What They Do and Why It Matters.” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies 31.2 (August 2000): 87-101.

“The Phenomenon Known as the Gospel Musical Stage Play.” CEA Critic 62.3 (Summer 2000): 1-17.

“African American Holyground in Another Good Loving Blues.” CLA Journal 44.1 (Sept. 2000): 65-87.

Invited Papers, Lectures, and Media Presentations

  • "1A," NPR program. Segment focused on women in gospel music. May 24, 2022.

  • History of Gospel Music. “American Black Journal,” Detroit Public Television, 6/21.

  • Sihler Lecture. Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, “Women Connected to `Oh Happy Day.’” 3/19.

  • NPR Special, “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: The Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul,” 2/19.

  • “Music Café’,” NPR, the episode focused on Aretha Franklin and Detroit, 8/18.

  • Baylor University, Pruit Symposium, “Oh Happy Day,” 10 /17.

  • Indiana University, Archives of AA Music and Culture, “Bodies of Sound,” 10/16.

  • Motown Museum. Black History Discussion of Their Spoken Word LPs, 2/16.

Awards and Recognition

  • Michigan Heritage Award Recipient, 2021
  • Gospel Announcer of the Year, Stellar Awards, 2006