MPR News with Angela Davis

J.D. Steele: Spreading joy and soul through song

J.D. Steele performs at Bridge of Song
J.D. Steele performs at a community sing-a-long in Minneapolis in 2016 called "Bridge of Song."
Steven Cohen for MPR News 2016

J.D. Steele doesn’t just walk onto a stage. He bursts on with a mic, full of energy and ready to belt into song. Usually he gets his audience to sing along or at least clap and sway in their seat.

Steele is the oldest sibling in the Minnesota gospel group The Steeles. And he’s been making music and spreading soul and joy for 40 years in Minnesota.

Steele toured with “The Gospel at Colonus” with actor Morgan Freeman and when it landed on Broadway in 1988. He collaborated with Prince during the 90s. He’s produced, performed and recorded multiple Steeles albums and worked with artists like George Clinton, Mavis Staples, Kim Carnes, Fine Young Cannibals and The Sounds of Blackness.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with J.D. Steele about his life work making music his and current projects, directing community choirs and inspiring the next generation to sing with soul.

Useful resources

Want to sing with one of the community choirs directed by J.D. Steele? They are free to participate in, don’t require auditions and rehearse together once a week for 90 minutes during the fall, winter and spring. Click to find more information about:

two people sitting in a studio
Angela Davis and J.D. Steele at MPR News headquarters on Tuesday in St. Paul
Maja Beckstrom | MPR News


  • J.D. Steele is a singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and choir director known for his work with Prince, as part of the J.D. Steele Singers in “The Gospel at Colonus,” in musical theatre and as a member of the Twin Cities-based vocal group The Steeles.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
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