Damita Haddon spoke with Gospelflava.com about The Voices of Unity (VOU), and also her next solo album, as well as hubby Deitrick's endeavors and the balance between being youth pastors and recording artists.
Gospelflava.com: Both you and Deitrick are now youth pastors at Without Walls International in Tampa Bay (pastored by Dr. Randy White and Paula White) . How are you balancing time with the group, VOU and time in Tampa Bay? Damita Haddon: It's pretty hard because there's a whole lot that comes with dealing with youth. They're calling you with their problems and things like that. It was very hard to do the album because we had to fly back and forth from Tampa to Detroit. So sometimes we split it up. If I went to Detroit, he would stay in Tampa and vice versa. We did that as much as possible to make sure that the church (youth) are alright.
All in all, our pastors are very understanding. When they asked us to be youth pastors, we didn't say yes automatically. We let them know that we are recording artists. This is what we do. This is the ministry that God has given to us. Dealing with youth is another thing that God has given to us. They understood considering how much Pastor Paula travels. They know how it is when it comes to being pulled between two gifts or two callings.
Gospelflava.com: Tell us about the makeup of VOU. Damita Haddon: Voices of Unity is just a group of young people that come together with one voice. It has gone through many transformations. It started off with 50 kids back in 1996. We recorded our first album (Come Into This House) out of our own pocket. Tyscot Records signed us with just a production and distribution deal. We traveled all across the United States and then it became so much of a hassle carrying 50 people over the weekend. So we narrowed it down to 9 of our top best vocalists in the choir.
Gospelflava.com: Who are you trying to reach on this newest release? Damita Haddon: We are staying in the same vein of trying to reach the entire church. That includes the old ones, the young ones and the middle aged ones. The album has a bit of everything. The first track, "Are You Ready" is very hardcore, urban contemporary. Then we go to songs like "Standing in the Need of Prayer" and "We Invite You In", which is a hardcore worship song that people can use on Sunday mornings to usher in the presence of God.
So the entire album is comprised with so many different types of Gospel songs that everyone could listen to. You can have a two-year-old that says 'Mama, I want to hear "Who Is It"'. Grandma can listen to "Jesus is a Rock". We want to reach the whole church and not exclude anyone when it comes to the album.
Gospelflava.com: Horace Jackson produced on much of the album with Dietrick. Can you tell us about Horace and what he brings to Voices of Unity. Damita Haddon: Horace aka Tone (pronounced Tony) is an upcoming writer and producer himself. He's always been in music and is in a musical family. Deitrick just wanted to give him a platform and an opportunity. VOU is a platform for a lot of artists and vocalists (that we use from Detroit) to utilize their gifts.
Deitrick felt that he shouldn't do it all himself when he has other people that are capable of writing and producing as well. So he said, "Hey Tone, if you have anything for the album, it's open." Of course, we went through songs that we thought were not good for the album. Eventually, Tone pulled it off and he came up with some very good stuff. His tracks were bangin' and we pulled it together and tried to make it the best that it could be to gain attention to his talent.
Gospelflava.com: What are Deitrick and Damita the solo artists up to? Damita Haddon: Deitrick is currently in the studio working on his next project. The release date is tentatively in August 2004, but with all of his traveling, it is difficult.
Damita is going through major transitions. The record industry [as a whole] is going through drastic changes. People are being fired from positions. People that you were working with before are not there anymore. I'm just going through the next phase. I have started recording my next album. We have something like 12 songs. We are going to work a whole new batch of songs. It's been about 4 years [since the first solo project (see album review], but it will be worth the wait. The second album is the always that where people wonder, "can she do it again?" So I am making sure that this album is not contrived, isn't full of clichés or trendy songs, but contains songs that have substance.
[After the the signing with Atlantic for the first solo album], the [next] label that I was signed to here in Florida, was not a Gospel label. They wanted to take us into hardcore, mainstream, R&B. My main thing is that we have two different visions. We're going through that battle where we're not trying to prove anything in R&B. I sing my music and I deliver a message that God is given me. Let the music open the doors for me but I don't want to purposely try to make a song that is going to get me R&B exposure.
So that's what we are going through right now, but that season will pass.
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