Dr. Daniel E. Walker, a Fontana High School graduate who is a professor of history at El Camino College, recently won a major award for his documentary on gospel music.
Walker, Juan Devis, Matthew Crotty, Jacqueline Reyno, David Ledwith, Austin Simons and Melinda James received the Best Entertainment Reporting Award at the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California’s 70th Golden Mike Awards at the Universal Hilton Hotel.
The documentary “How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles” premiered on KCET’s "Artbound" last June.
Set in the wake of the Watts Riots, “How Sweet the Sound” explored how innovations in gospel music, led by the Reverend James Cleveland, and a revolution in grassroots church activism, resulted in the election of Tom Bradley as the first African American mayor of Los Angeles and the recording of Aretha Franklin's “Amazing Grace,” still the best-selling gospel album of all-time.
Walker, the executive producer of the program, said he was honored to receive the distinction.
“When I brought the vision to the team at KCET, they embraced it and we produced something that exceeded all of our expectations,” he said. “My professional life has been consumed with telling deep, nuanced stories of real people and the interactions of history, spirituality and the arts. I’m so pumped that RTNA recognized the stellar work of our creative team, led by Juan Devis, Matt Crotty and producer Jac Reyno.”
Walker, the founding director of the Gospel Music History Project and the Gospel Music History Archive at the USC Libraries and co-curator of the 2018 “How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles” exhibit at the California African American Museum, is developing more rich gospel music television programming.
“The win at the RTNA Golden Mike Awards is a perfect springboard for my next major project, which is a multi-episode docu series exploring the deep contours of gospel music’s past, present, and future,” he said.
On Feb. 23, Walker received the 2020 Purpose Finders’ “Living the Dash Award” in Atlanta. The annual honor is presented to African Amercans who are trailblazers in their respective fields, companies, careers or industries and are “walking in their divine purpose daily.”
Additionally, Walker, who also executive produces the Long Beach Indie International Film Festival, is accepting submissions for the sixth annual event taking place in Long Beach Sept. 16-20. The festival is one of the world's premier showcases for diverse filmed content.