Ricky Dillard shares on his gospel roots, pastoring, TEN collabs & more! | @RickyDillard
Ricky Dillard is the walking, talking embodiment of the charismatic Gospel artist. His towering, chocolate frame is always immaculately draped in elegant, tailor made suits. His graceful movements in concert are part gravity-defying calisthenics and part unadulterated COGIC expression. His rich catalog of Black church music is the personification of praise pushed to the absolute limit.
Thirty plus years as the dynamic director of jubilant sounds and joyous celebration has catapulted Dillard into a sort of legendary status. His jaw-dropping choir, New G, continue to reign supreme for their vocal excellence and capturing stage performances. But despite all the accolades and awards, Ricky refuses to slow down. Instead, he’s just as excited as ever with the release of his milestone record, TEN. BlackGospel.com recently spoke with Ricky Dillard about his truly amazing journey.
Christopher Heron: Minister Dillard, if you could welcome any soprano, alto and tenor from any era to join New G, who would be those three vocalists?
Ricky Dillard: My all-time favorite soprano voice would be Aretha Franklin. For alto, does it have to be a Gospel artist?
Christopher Heron: Any genre.
Ricky Dillard: Okay, then. If I can go back, I’d take Beyoncé and Aretha Franklin. My alto would probably be Brandy. My tenor, Donny Hathaway [laugh].
Christopher Heron: You’ve spent most of your life between Chicago and the DMV (District of Columbia / Maryland / Virginia). What’s the biggest difference between the two regions when it comes to church?
Ricky Dillard: Most of what I’ve learned comes from Chicago. I started as an artist under Bishop Arthur Brazier from The Apostolic Church of God. I also served at the True Holiness Church of God in Christ. I also worked with Bishop Willie James Campbell, in the music department. I moved to Atlanta for a time and worked for The Church of God. I currently serve at The Ebenezer AME Church now, under Rev. Dr. Grainger Browning, Jr. The Lord has allowed me to pick up pieces of Kingdom principles and teachings from all of these churches that I’ve served in.
If you notice, I call The Ebenezer Church the AME Church of God because of the anointing. Their teaching and the flow of worship is very radical. We speak in tongues, we shout, we dance, we do Praise & Worship, Traditional, anthems, we do everything. There’s always a major move of God. I don’t know if I could say there’s a major difference. I’ve been touched by so many different movements and established ministries that I’ve learned a variety of worship experiences.
Christopher Heron: You’ve evolved from a choir director, to a recording artist, to a Worship leader. Have you contemplated launching a church ministry?
Ricky Dillard: Well, no. Of course, I could see myself being a pastor. I see myself in the shoes of a spiritual leader of a movement which is a church. But no, I have not embraced that. New G is like a church to me. I pastor the members about music. There are teachings the Lord has given me that connects people with the music we sing, that causes these empowering sessions.
I do not try to take the place of pastors. Members have a pastor who teaches, preaches and empowers them weekly. I empower them musically but with the spiritual twist of the word of God that lines up their lives with the call of God. I don’t stand in a shoe that is not my shoe. I am their spiritual musical leader and in that role, I talk about the word of God and the principles of God.
Christopher Heron: Love the artwork on the album cover. What’s the concept?
Ricky Dillard: I thought the concept was very creative. This concept is Project 10 and 10 is symbolic of the journey of the 10 recorded projects that God gave us to give to the world. We decided to give you a different Ricky Dillard, through the journey of 10 projects. I thought it was very tasteful, very creative. When I look at that cover I’m overwhelmed.
Christopher Heron: You have some of the most incredible voices lined up on your latest album like Le’Andria, Tina Campbell, Karen Clark Sheard and BeBeWinans.
Ricky Dillard: I wanted to create a different vibe for this Live recording. I also used others beside those in New G, as lead singers. I followed the concept that the late Rev. Milton Brunson used. I was a Thompson Community Singer by the age of 19, until I started recorded my first project with The Generation Chorale.
I wanted to collaborate with some of the names that the world loves and also introduce singers that you’ve heard before on past projects but everything on this project sounds fresh. All my lead singers are new except for one. They’re going to blow your mind. It’s just magical. I’m proud of it, I’m blessed and grateful for it because I think collaboration and fellowship is good and that means we’re helping each other. That’s what we’re doing, we’re building Gospel.
Christopher Heron: Your previous album, Amazing, was such a runaway success. Will this new album resemble the previous one, conceptually and musically?
Ricky Dillard: I sat on this record for about a year. I started working on it in January 2016. By February, the Lord brought me the concept. This project is definitely New G. Whatever age you are, whatever you like, we’ve got something on there that you’re going to say, ‘’I can get with that.’’ We’re always trying to enlarge our audience and make them aware of the music ministry and brand called Ricky Dillard & New G.
Christopher Heron: Who did you produce this album for? And what’s the impact you hope to have with this album?
Ricky Dillard: This project is very dear to me. I was researching the history of African-Americans, the journey we’ve been through, as we were preparing to inaugurate Donald Trump and the Lord gave me this message for the people. We don’t have to get all up in arms or get scared and be in fear about this president. The scripture does not say that the government is on the president’s shoulder it says that the government is on the Kingdom’s shoulder.
He’s delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the enemy, He’s going to do the same thing now. So don’t worry, don’t stress, don’t trip, don’t be in fear, don’t walk around on egg shells, because the same God that brought us through every other president is going to bring us through this one too. He will provide and we will turn things around in a year or two or three or four from now and say, “we are survivors”.