CITIZEN JOURNALISM: The host and songs that touched a heart

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Patrick Ellis, host of “Sunday Morning Gospel” on WHUR-FM, does not consider himself a hero of the black community, but he is aware of his show’s ability to touch the lives of many people. I’m one of them.

My sharecropper family was new to Washington, and while a teen, the first family member out of bed on Sunday mornings would turn on WHUR. We had a stereo with large built-in speakers, and the sounds of gospel would be moving and soothing.

Years later, in the 1970s, before I became divorced, my husband and I had many back-and-forth separations. Each time, I would go back home, where my two preacher parents lived. I always found myself in meditation while there, thinking about problems I had faced.

I would pray as I listened to “Sunday Morning Gospel,” tears rolling down my face and wetting my pillow, asking God to lead, guide and direct me to a better life.

Listening to Mr. Ellis gave me hope. A song would soothe my spirit, songs such as “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” by the Rev. James Cleveland.

Then, in the 1990s, as I worked on a special project on my computer one Sunday morning, the radio was beside me and tuned to “Sunday Morning Gospel” with Patrick Ellis. He played a song I had never heard before, “Speak to Your Mountain.” My work stopped. It was a spiritual moment. As I listened to the words of that song, God was speaking directly into my spirit. Floods of tears rolled down my face; I raised my hands and began to weep and wail, praying and thanking God. I had to purchase that CD, and I played it over and over again. It continued to calm my spirit.

When I was asked to write a story to tell the Patrick Ellis story for his 30th anniversary, I felt honored. What a blessing he has been to all of us out here in radio land.

- Lyndia Grant

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