Interview With Ricky Dillard
The Ministry Behind the Moves

As summer 1999 comes to a close, the Gospel festival circuit is beginning to wind down. With venues ranging from crowded indoor hotel ballrooms to hot, dust-swirling fields, many Gospel artists are on the road every weekend, pounding the pavement from city to city.

GospelFlava.com caught up with a perennial crowd favorite, Ricky Dillard, founder Ricky Dillard and director of New Generation Chorale, at the Ottawa Blues and Gospel Festival. We managed to squeeze a brief sit-down interview with the Chicago native into some downtime between post-concert autograph signings and the grueling 18-hour bus drive back to Chicago for Sunday morning service.

Dillard discussed his ministry, his musical inspirations, and shared his thoughts about his upcoming project, due out in Fall 1999 on Crystal Rose Records.

GOSPELFLAVA: Ricky Dillard and New G has always been known as a show choir, with flashy moves and eye-stopping choreography. In concert however, you frequently state that the visuals mean nothing, in comparison to the ministry. How do you describe New G's ministry?

RICKY DILLARD: Well, we’re a music ministry, and we aim to the lost, the backslider, the sick and to those in need. We’re a ministry of the Gospel of the Lord, the life, birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. And our ministry is also to entertain the saints, to minister the Lord Jesus to the hearts of them.

GOSPELFLAVA: Everyone’s got favorite albums….CDs that they keep glued to their car systems…and at GospelFlava.com, we’re always curious to know what's playing on the systems of Gospel artists. (Especially since it's often a window into the musical mind!).

RICKY DILLARD: I like checking out the new Gospel. Chicago’s New Direction and Brooklyn’s Danny Eason and Abundant Life Crusade Choir, for example. Of course, all my favorite greats are still getting play from me –Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker. I listen to lots of Gospel, the new kids on the block, the new urban stuff like Youth Edition, who are also from Chicago. I love those guys, they’re wonderful and I certainly do listen to them.

And then I’ve had the chance to to go back and listen to some of the older, traditional sounds such as Arethra Franklin, with James Cleveland (Amazing Grace album). We just had a Ricky Dillard & New G history service at our church, honoring some of the pioneers of Gospel such as The Barrett Sisters, Inez Andrews and Albertina Walker. So, it was a different thing to go back to the history, to where Gospel first started.

GOSPELFLAVA: Your last project, Worked It Out, was a bit of a departure from your previous projects, with production by yourself, and co-production by Donald Lawrence. You had a noticeable urban twist to some of the cuts. On what road does your next project take you?

RICKY DILLARD: Well, we’re working on an album that will have ‘a little something extra’ —a hip-hop touch, while trying to keep our base connected with the sound that we began with. It’ll be combination of studio and live tracks. We’re also collaborating with some folks to bring a touch of something new. For example, we hope to have Kelly Price and Ann Nesby, who is the former lead vocalist with The Sounds of Blackness, involved on the project.

I wrote quite a few of the songs on this new project —seven songs— and I’m quite excited about that. God really inspired me to write a song called “The Holy Place”, which I anticipate will be the title of the album. I was inspired after studying about the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and the Tabernacle. When I learned about what it is to be in the presence of God, I began to put the tune in place. Our healing, our deliverance can only come if we’re in the presence of God.

GOSPELFLAVA: Thanks for the update. We'll be looking for the album!

— interview by Stan North —

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